Tyrion, Jon and Davos wander through the burned shell of King's Landing. Winter has fully arrived, but fires still burn amid piles of masonry and corpses. Once again we see the little girl entwined in the arms of her mother, immolated while clutching faithfully to her carved wooden pony. Tyrion takes his leave of Jon and Davos, and turns down Jon's offer of sending men with him. He is in search of his brother and sister...and he finds them. He sees Jaime's golden hand sticking out from a pile of rubble, and he tearfully pulls the stones away from their broken bodies.
Meanwhile, Jon and Davos come across Grey Worm carrying out the execution of prisoners of war. They are not happy about it, and try to intervene, but Davos wisely understands that they can either let it happen, or die alongside the Lannister troops. He suggests they go speak to the queen. As they walk away, Grey Worm is slitting throats.
Outside the keep, a somewhat cleaned up Arya walks along the periphery of celebrating Dothraki and stoic Unsullied. She spots Jon walking somewhat dispiritedly toward the steps leading up to where Drogon and Daeny land. As he arrives at the top of the steps, Daeny walks out to address the troops.
She begins by thanking the Dothraki for killing her enemies. She continues by naming Grey Worm the commander of all her armies. As Tyrion arrives, she describes the Unsullied as liberators, and indicates that she intends to liberate all the world and "break the wheel" – the wheel that repeats itself endlessly, with tyrants oppressing men, women and children.
Tyrion has had enough. He walks up next to Daeny. She glances over at him, and accuses him of treason in the freeing of Jaime. He agrees that he freed his brother, and rebukes her for the slaughter of the city. He throws the badge of his office down the steps. Daeny has him arrested. As Tyrion walks by in the company of his captors, he stares at Jon. Daeny also walks by Jon, and as Jon watches her walk away, Arya appears at his side.
Jon is surprised to see Arya, and also happy that she's alive. He asks her what happened to her, and she replies that she intended to kill Cersei, but "your queen" got there first. "She's everyone's queen now", Jon replies. "Try telling Sansa" Arya retorts. She warns Jon that, as someone with a better claim to the throne than Daeny, he'll be a threat to Daenerys. "And I know a killer when I see one", she says.
Jon visits Tyrion in his makeshift prison. Tyrion expresses regret at betraying Varys. He most certainly does NOT regret betraying Daeny, now that he's seen who she really is. Jon agrees that he can't justify what happened to the people of King's Landing, but he thinks things will settle down now that the war is over.
Tyrion points out that what she said to her troops didn't sound like someone who was done fighting. He lists what has happened to those who opposed Daeny. "Our queen's nature is fire and blood", he says. Jon protests, but Tyrion won't let him off the hook. He points out that she murdered the slavers of Astapor, but they were evil. She crucified nobles of Meereen, but they were evil. She burned the Dothraki Khals, but they were evil. And all of this has created a ruler that is okay with killing hundreds and thousands of people because she is in the right. Jon is reeling, and Tyrion doesn't let up. He tells Jon that he believed in Daeny with all his heart, and that love is more powerful than reason. And Jon's love for Daeny is keeping him from seeing what she is.
"Love is the death of duty" Jon replies, and explains that Maester Aemon expressed that to Jon at the Wall. "Sometimes, duty is the death of love" counters Tyrion. He tells Jon that he, Jon, is the shield that guards the realms of men, and that he has always tried to do the right thing and protect people. "Who is the greatest threat to the people now?" he asks. And in an echo of Arya's warning, he asks Jon who is more of a threat to her than Jon, the rightful heir to the throne? Jon figuratively shrugs his shoulders, and says that would be Daeny's choice. But as Jon leaves, Tyrion points out that Jon's sisters will likely resist Daeny's rule...and how will that end up for them?
Jon goes to see Daeny. As he approaches, Drogon blocks his way, but lets him pass after sniffing him. Daeny is in the throne room, which is largely open to the sky. Snow falls upon the throne, in just the way the visions at the House of the Undying showed her. She seems enthralled by the throne. (When she reached out to touch the throne, I somewhat expected her to cut a finger, as the throne allegedly does to those unworthy to sit upon it). She is in good spirits, repeating to Jon the stories of the throne that she heard when she was a little girl. Jon is not in good spirits. He complains to her about the executing of prisoners, the burning of children. She blames Cersei. Jon asks for mercy when it comes to Tyrion, but Daeny denies him. Jon asks for mercy, but Daeny's idea of mercy involves killing a whole bunch of people first. She tells him that she's going to make the world good, and when he asks how she knows it will be good, she replies that she knows what is good. I'm sure Jon is thinking that a lot of folks in King's Landing might take issue with that. And when he asks – what about all the other people who think they know what is good? Daeny replies that those people don't get to choose.
Daeny invites Jon to build the new world with her. Jon tells her that she is his queen, and will always be his queen. He kisses her, and slips a knife in between her ribs. She dies in his arms. It must have been something she said.
As Jon weeps over her corpse, Drogon senses that something is wrong with Mama. He lands in the throne room, and Jon prepares to die. Drogon nudges her body, trying to get her to wake up. When she doesn't, Drogon cries out in anguish, and lets loose with a blast of fire...but not at Jon. Drogon melts the throne to slag, picks up Daeny's body, and flies off.
Many weeks pass. Tyrion is brought out of his cell, and marched to the Dragonpit by Grey Worm. There, he is presented to a semi-circle of the Who's Who of Who's Left in Westeros. There is Sansa, Arya and Bran of House Stark; Sam of House Tarly; Robin of House Arryn; Edmure of House Tully (Catelyn Stark's little brother); Brienne of Tarth; Yara of House Greyjoy; Ser Davos; Gendry of House Baratheon; Bronze Yohn of House Royce; some dude representing Dorne; and three other dudes I didn't recognize – any help out there?.
Sansa wants to know why Jon wasn't also brought before them. Grey Worm says that Jon is their prisoner, and will remain so. Sansa threatens Grey Worm with the thousands of Northmen outside the walls. Grey Worm is unimpressed. Yara pipes in that the Ironborn (at least, her Ironborn) were sworn to Daenerys, and she wants Jon to die for killing her...which prompts Arya to matter-of-factly threaten to cut Yara's throat if she doesn't shut up.
Davos steps in before things get out of hand. He thanks Grey Worm for what the Unsullied have done for Westeros, but the war can't continue. He tries to convince Grey Worm to take land in the Reach (erstwhile home of the Tyrells), but Grey Worm doesn't want pay...he wants justice. Tyrion points out that justice is not within Grey Worm's purview. He says that, since Jon committed a crime in Westeros, it's the king or queen who should decide what happens to him. But first they need to figure out who should be king or queen.
Edmure steps up to announce his candidacy, and is really staring to roll until his niece, Sansa, tells him to sit down. Then Sam stands to ask why the king or queen shouldn't be democratically elected – after all, this ruler will rule all, not just the great houses. He is roundly laughed down...even by Edmure. Sansa and Arya have the good grace to merely smirk at the idea.
Edmure suggests that Tyrion must want the crown, but Tyrion quickly demurs...but he does have a suggestion. He suggests Bran. When Sansa suggests that Bran is ill-suited, because he can't father children, Tyrion replies that this is exactly why he's perfect. Rulers should not be born, they should be chosen. He points out to Grey Worm that this is a breaking of the wheel. Asked if he would accept, Bran replies that he didn't come all the way to King's Landing for nothing.
All the representatives there vote for Bran, save one: Sansa abstains from the vote, and notes that the North will be seceding from the Seven Kingdoms. Bran nods in agreement.
They all stand and hail Bran the Broken, King of the Six Kingdoms.
Bran names Tyrion his Hand. Tyrion protests. Grey Worm protests. But Bran notes that Tyrion's sentence is to make up for all the mistakes he's made.
Later, Tyrion informs Jon that Bran is sending Jon to the Night's Watch. He couldn't give Jon to the Unsullied, because that would start a war. He couldn't let Jon go free, because that would start a war. This is the compromise.
Jon asks Tyrion if what he did (killing Daeny) was right. "What we did" replies Tyrion. When Jon says it doesn't feel right, Tyrion replies "ask me again in 10 years".
Jon prepares to leave King's Landing on his way to Castle Black. He sees the Dothraki, who are on their way back to Essos. He sees the Unsullied, who sail for Naath, the home of Missandei. He says goodbye to Sansa, who will be the Queen in the North. He says goodbye to Arya, who plans to sail west to see what's there beyond the maps. He says goodbye to Bran, his liege. He drinks in the sight of his family, whom he will likely not see again, and gets on the boat.
Brienne is poring over the chronicles of the Kingsguard. The first page she looks at is that of Ser Duncan the Tall, who is the eponymous Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (a compilation of the Dunk & Egg novellas)... and her ancestor. The next page is Ser Arthur Dayne – the Sword of the Morning. Killed by Eddard Stark as he defended the newborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen... a son soon to be known as Jon Snow. The following page is Ser Barristan the Bold, and then she turns to Ser Jaime Lannister. His page is not so grandiose, but she adds several items to his record, including "Died protecting his Queen".
Much rebuilding and cleaning seems to have taken place. Tyrion is convening the small council, which includes himself as Hand, Davos as Master of Ships, Bronn (now Lord of the Reach) as Master of Coin, Sam as Grand Maester. Brienne, presumably, as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. They don't yet have a Master of Whisperers, or a Master of Law, or a Master of War (in the books there is a Master of Horse, but whatever).
Sam lays a thick tome in front of Tyrion. He proudly names it A Song of Ice and Fire – a history of the wars following King Robert's death, written by Archmaester Ebrose from the Citadel. When Tyrion presumes that the Archmaester would not have good things to say about him, there is a bit of awkwardness...as it seems the Archmaester doesn't even mention Tyrion in the history.
Bran arrives. He notes that there are missing roles on the council, and Tyrion assures him that suitable candidates will be presented. Bran asks about Drogon, and there is no word, to which he replies that perhaps he can find him (by warging into birds or something similar, presumably). Bran instructs them to carry on, and departs with an assist from Ser Podrick of the Kingsguard. Humorous wrangling among the council members ensues.
In the North...the real North, Jon has returned to Castle Black. Awaiting him there is Tormund Giantsbane, along with a number of wildlings, and Ghost.
We end the show with Sansa girding herself in finery for her coronation as Queen in the North. With Arya donning Needle and the famous Valyrian steel dagger and sailing into the West. And Jon riding underneath the Wall with his new family, Ghost at his side. The Stark children have scattered to the winds, and will more than likely never be together again in one place.
Well folks – I will just say up front that I am turning off my "this is how it is in the books" brain and just enjoying the show for what it is. Things are feeling very abrupt aren't they? I will not try to explain how Cersei must have misheard Maggie, and that "valontar" is High Valyrian for "stone from above". The show remains visually compelling and well-acted in its headlong rush to a conclusion. I could wish for a more thoughtful and subtle progression, but I guess there are times in every game of thrones where brute force plays a dominant role. Let's get to it.
On Dragonstone, Varys writes to someone the news of Jon's true parentage. He is interrupted by one of his spies, Martha. Martha, a young kitchen drudge, reports that Daeny refuses to eat. She also reports that Daeny's soldiers are keeping an eye on her. Varys reminds her that the greater the risk, the greater the reward. What risk is Varys asking her to take? Perhaps something with Daeny's food?
Tyrion watches from the parapet as Jon arrives by boat, and is greeted by Varys. Varys approaches the subject of treason obliquely, but acquiesces to Jon's impatience with riddles and says it plainly. "We both know what she's about to do" says Varys. He wants Jon to rule, not Daenerys. Jon is not hearing it. Daeny is whom he is pledged to, and that's that. Tyrion may not have heard the conversation, but he can't help but notice that Jon strides on while Varys remains behind, and it's not hard to draw the conclusion that Varys (who is usually more discreet and subtle...oh that's right – shut up brain!) has been thwarted in his aims, at least for now.
Tyrion calls on his queen. He must tell her of betrayal. Daeny, though, feels betrayed by everyone, and she raises some very good points. Why did Tyrion tell Varys of Jon's parentage before discussing it with Daeny? Betrayal. Why did Jon tell Sansa about it when she begged him, as his queen, not to? Betrayal.
Varys is back to his writing... but he hears military footsteps, and he knows what that means. He burns what he was writing. He strips off his jewelry in preparation. Sure enough, it's Gray Worm and a couple of his men, and they are carrying chains for the Master of Whisperers. They lead him down to the beach, where Jon, Daeny and Tyrion wait for him. Tyrion tells him that it was he who tattled. Varys says he hopes he deserves to be executed, because that will mean he, Varys, was wrong about Daeny. He says goodbye to Tyrion, who can only squeeze his arm in goodbye. Daeny then sentences Varys to die, and Drogon carries it out via fire.
Later, back in her chambers, Daeny gives to Gray Worm the only possession Missandei brought with her across the Narrow Sea. It appears to be her slave collar, perhaps? Gray Worm (Torgo Nudho in Valyrian) throws it into the fire. Jon appears, and Daeny dismisses Gray Worm. Daeny begins the discussion with a very reasonable take regarding Sansa – that Sansa, by spreading the word about Jon, had as much to do with Varys' death as she did. Well, it's reasonable if you agree that people who know about Jon's parentage need to die. Daeny is feeling vulnerable. She wants to be Mhysa to those in Westeros, as she was to the slaves in Essos, but here people don't love her, only fear her. Weird, huh? (*cough* Tarley barbecue). Jon protests that he loves her, and that she'll always be his queen. Daeny wants more, and she tries to initiate romance. Jon loves her, but he's not able to get past the fact that she is his dad's little sister. "All right then" says Daeny "Let it be fear."
Tyrion tries to argue against Daeny's plans to burn down King's Landing. He's concerned about the loss of innocent life. Daeny proclaims that Cersei is trying to use Daeny's tendency toward mercy against her, and is putting up a human shield to prevent Drogon from lighting everything up. Daeny has decided that it will be mercy to future generations to not cave to Cersei's tactics here. Tyrion begs that, if the city surrenders (as evidenced by the bells ringing), it will mean that they don't have to burn everything. Daeny agrees to call off the attack if the city surrenders. She tells Gray Worm to take his troops to King's Landing and wait for her outside the walls. He'll know when it's time to attack.
Tyrion begins to take his leave from her, but she mentions that Jaime was caught trying to cross over into King's Landing. A bitter Daeny tells Tyrion that the next time he fails her, it will be the last time he fails her.
The folk from the countryside are moving into King's Landing ahead of the invading army. A little girl is among the crowd, along with her mother. We'll see her later.
Tyrion, in Daeny's war camp, meets with Davos and asks him for a smuggling favor. We're not clear what that favor is, only that Davos isn't going to like it. Tyrion also frees Jaime, at great risk to himself. He begs Jaime to convince Cersei to leave the city and thereby stop a war she can't win. He tells him to have the bells rung, and that will stop the attack. He tells Jaime of the path he took out of the castle after killing Shae and Tywin, past the skull of Balerion the Black Dread. When Jaime basically asks Tyrion why he's risking his life to free him, Tyrion points out that if he has to die to save tens of thousands of innnocents, it seems like a fair trade. He also says he wouldn't have made it through childhood without Jaime protecting him. Jaime was the only one who didn't treat him like a monster. An emotional embrace ensues. Jaime agrees to make the attempt to get Cersei to ring the bells, and off he goes.
The next day, the city prepares for war. Soldiers line the walls, the fleets prepare to go dragon hunting, and the citizens retreat behind closed doors.
Arya and Sandor make their way to the Red Keep, as (separately) does Jaime.
The Golden Company sets up shop in front of the walls (why? That seems particularly vulnerable. Shut up, brain!). Tyrion now tells Jon about the ringing of the bells, and what it signifies. Call off your men if you hear the bells, says Tyrion.
Cersei looks out over the Red Keep, where the doors are being shut for security reasons. The little girl, clutching a carved pony, and her mother are passed up by Sandor and Arya. The latter two make it in before the gates are shut, but the little girl and her mom don't...nor does Jaime, who goes to look for an alternate entrance.
Out in the bay, Euron and his fleet are prepared for Drogon to arrive. Their patience is rewarded when they see him dropping out of the sky toward them. They fire their bolts...but when they miss, their ships are like matchstick houses in a tornado. The Iron Fleet is no more...just like that. The soldiers atop the walls, with their scorpions, are likewise torched. Finally, the walls behind the Golden Company are destroyed by dragon's breath, and the Golden Company lasts a shorter time than the Iron Fleet.
That's the signal for Gray Worm and his men, who stream into the city. Drogon continues to burn any threat, as well as a number of folks who are not any threat to him and Daeny. Cersei watches it. She's still optimistic that it only takes one lucky shot. Qyburn gives her the trifecta of bad news – all scorpions gone, Iron Fleet destroyed, walls breached. Cersei says it's just a flesh wound.
In the city, the Lannister army hears the dragon and sees the army. They throw down their weapons. The bells start ringing...
...and Daeny rejects the idea of stopping the destruction. The gloves are off – women, children – all are food for the flames. Gray Worm initiates a butchering of mostly defenseless men, those who had dropped their swords. Jon tries to hold his men back, but he is attacked and then the fog of war comes down.
Tyrion can't believe what he's seeing. Davos guides civilians away from where it's thickest. Jon prevents a rape, killing an ally. He's obviously having trouble processing what he's seeing.
Jaime finds the cavern that leads up through the catacombs to the Red Keep, but he is caught at the cave entrance by Euron (who swam all that way with his boots still on – shut up, brain!). Jaime wants Euron's help saving Cersei, but Euron wants to brag about having sex with Cersei, and he wants to kill Jaime. They fight. Jaime is stabbed twice, but guts Euron and twists the sword. Well, at least Euron was a consistent character.
Cersei starts to realize she has lost. Her castle is being destroyed around her. Qyburn leads her toward Maegor's Holdfast, the last retreat.
Wildfire deposits start to blow up in the city, the green flames rising to mingle with the orange and yellow.
Arya and Sandor have made it to the map room. Sandor advises Arya to go home. He says Cersei is as good as dead, and there's no reason for Arya to die as well. He says that his revenge, which he's nursed his whole life, has made him someone who is not to be admired or imitated. He says Arya is going to end up just like him. Arya thanks him...and she leaves.
On the way down the stairs, Cersei's men are largely wiped out by the building falling in on them. Sandor appears at the foot of the stairs, and quickly dispatches all but the Mountain, Cersei and Qyburn. Gregor starts to move toward his little brother. Cersei orders him to stay by her side, but he disobeys. When Qyburn protests, Gregor splatters his head against the rock. Cersei edges past the two brothers, and then the Clegane Bowl kicks off. Sandor is the more skilled fighter, but it turns out that impaling the Mountain doesn't really harm him that much. Sandor is about to get the Viper treatment, when he thrust his blade into his brother's arm several times, and then finally his eye. Even that doesn't kill Gregor, who starts to pull the dagger out of his brain. Sandor bull rushes the Mountain, pushing them both through the crumbling wall of the keep to plummet many feet below into the flames.
Cersei, meanwhile, runs into a bleeding Jaime in the map room. Their reunion is emotional, but short. They flee to the catacombs.
Arya is trying to navigate the streets of King's Landing. Walls are falling, people are fleeing every direction, fires are raging. She loses her footing and is in danger of being trampled, when the little girl's mom helps her to her feet. They get separated by the mob, and Arya is knocked down and out by crumbling masonry.
Jon orders his men to fall back and leave the city.
Arya comes to, covered in dust, the blood trail across her lip making her look like Inigo Montoya (Hello. My name is Arya Stark. You killed my father. Prepare to die.). She narrowly avoids more falling buildings. She finds the little girl and her mother again. She convinces them to follow her to try to escape the city. However, the Dothraki are riding rampant through the city, and the little girl's mother is injured. Arya tries to help her walk, but the mother just asks her to take her daughter and go. Arya does so, but the little girl breaks free and runs back to her mother, just as Drogon makes another strafing run. She and her mother are burned to death, and she never let go of her carved pony.
In the catacombs, Jaime and Cersei find the exit blocked by a cave-in. Cersei starts to panic like a cornered rat. Jaime grabs her, makes her look him in the eye, and tells her that nothing matters except the two of them. He holds her as the cave-ins take out the catacombs.
Arya, surrounded by fallen ash and corpses, burning buildings and heaps of rubble, finds a white horse standing amidst everything. She soothes the beast, and rides him out of King's Landing.
The Battle of Winterfell is over and the heroic dead are duly honored, mourned by those luckier, more skilled, and/or of greater box office clout, and thus still alive. We see Ser Jorah, cut down defending Daenerys. Theon Greyjoy, killed by the Night King while protecting Bran. Beric Dondarrion, dead for the final time, his service to the Lord of Light presumably completed. Dolorous Edd Tollett, stabbed from behind as he was chivvying Sam to keep fighting. Lady Mormont, taking down a giant even as the giant crushed the life out of her.
The pyres are lit, tears are shed...but life is for the living, and the survivors embrace it. Food, drink, sex and archery are on the docket. Gendry is looking for Arya, and is foolish enough to ask Sandor Clegane for help finding her. Rebuffed there, he gets up to seek her out, but gets called upon by Daenerys before he can take his leave. Daeny speaks into the uneasy silence, saying that his father, Robert Baratheon, took her family's throne and put a price on Daeny's head. Gendry protests that he didn't even know whom his father was until after he was dead. Daeny acknowledges that Robert is dead, and points out that his brothers Stannis and Renly are dead, too. She asks if anyone knows who would therefore be the Lord of Storm's End, the ancestral seat of the Baratheons. When nobody answers, she proclaims that Gendry Baratheon, lawful son of Robert Baratheon, is now the Lord of Storm's End. Davos raises a toast to him, and everyone is happy that the smith has been raised to the peerage. Except Sansa. I'm sure she has nothing against Gendry, but she looks askance at pretty much everything the dragon queen says and does.
Tyrion speaks to Davos about Melisandre's end. He speaks to Bran about his clever wheelchair, and about his knowledge of history. Tyrion says that will come in useful when Bran, as the last trueborn son of Ned Stark, becomes Lord of Winterfell. Bran indicates that he will not become Lord of Winterfell, because he doesn't want it. When Tyrion admits to envy of someone who is not driven by want, Bran demurs, saying that he lives mostly in the past and should not be envied.
Tormund tries to get Jon to drink an entire horn of alcohol in one pull. He says that they must celebrate their victory. Jon protests that vomiting is not celebrating. "Yes it is" Tormund says earnestly. He raises the horn in toast to Daeny, the dragon queen. As the room raises their drinks, Daeny counters with a toast to Arya Stark, the hero of Winterfell. The room goes crazy. Jon is having a good time, and as he catches Daeny's eye, they communicate wordlessly. Sansa, seeing their reaction, gets up and walks away.
Tormund is telling everyone about why he follows Jon. It's genial drunkenness, but there are interesting implications to what he's saying, and Daeny hears it all. Clearly Tormund is devoted to Jon, even though they were bitter enemies not that long ago. Tormund closes his praise by saying that Jon is either a madman... or a king. Awkward look between Jon and Daeny ensues. Though Daeny smiles, she looks around the room and notes that everyone is fully engaged with others, except her. Everyone fits in, except her. She gets to her feet and leaves without saying goodbye to anyone. Varys looks on concernedly.
Jaime and Brienne drink together. They'll soon be joined by Tyrion and Podrick in a frathouse drinking game. A player says something about you, and if it's true, you must drink. If it's untrue, they must drink. Brienne is not very good at the game. When Tyrion says that Brienne is a virgin, she gets up to leave. Tormund comes up to try to engage her in celebration, but she's having none of it. Jaime follows her.
Tormund is confessing his heartbreak to "Dear Abby" Clegane when another woman offers to help take his mind off Brienne. Aaaaaand, just like that, Brienne is forgotten.
Sansa approaches Clegane, and they discuss old times. Clegane is his usual self, throwing reality in Sansa's face. But Sansa today is not the Sansa of old. She is unflinching. Clegane says he heard she was "broken in rough" by Ramsay. Sansa says that she gave Ramsay what he deserved in response. How, the Hound asks. "Hounds", says Sansa, and Clegane chuckles. He tells her she's changed since she was the "little bird" living in fear of Joffrey. He tells her that if she had come with him when he left King's Landing, none of the bad things that Littlefinger and Ramsay had visited upon her would have happened. Sansa reaches out and holds his hand and says, looking him in the eye, "without Littlefinger and Ramsay and the rest, I would have stayed a little bird all my life". And with that, she leaves. This was probably my favorite moment of the episode.
Gendry finds Arya practicing her archery. He informs her of his newly minted lordship. He kisses her and confesses his love for her (as well as his total lack of preparedness to be a lord). He gets down on a knee and asks her to be the Lady of Storm's End. Arya kisses him gently, and then tells him that he'll be a wonderful lord, but she's not a lady. She never has been. "That's not me" she says. Just as she told Ned Stark in season one, when he told her she'd be married to a lord and run his castle.
Jaime shows up at Brienne's door with a pitcher of wine, and the excuse that she didn't actually drink when she was supposed to during the game. They have sex.
Daeny goes to her and Jon's room and they start to have sex. But for Jon, it's the opposite of the saying – the mind is willing but the flesh is weak. Daeny confesses that she wishes she didn't know of Jon's parentage. She sees that Jon is viewed by Westeros the way she was viewed by many in Essos – with reverence. She's worried that Jon, despite his protestations that he doesn't want the throne, will be pressured to take what is hers. An interesting choice of words, since Jon has the better claim to the throne. She wants him to never tell anyone else about who he is. She wants him to swear Bran and Sam to secrecy. He tells her that he needs to tell Sansa and Arya. She begs him not to do it. He says that she is his queen, and that Sansa and Arya are his family, and they can live together.
Coldly, she replies that they can, if he does as she says. She walks away.
In war council, it appears that their troop loss, combined with Cersei's hiring of the Golden Company, has made the two sides relatively equal in strength. Daeny proclaims that they will tear Cersei out of King's Landing root and stem. Tyrion, somewhat uneasily, points out that they want to minimize death and destruction to innocents and to King's Landing. Jon chimes in and says they will surround the city and use the dragons to destroy any attempts to reprovision. Daeny relents...and then Sansa asserts that the troops need to rest and recuperate.
Daeny takes this as an attempt to bow out of the coming conflict. Jon steps in and says that the North will obey the Queen. Daeny is visibly bolstered by this show of explicit loyalty, while Arya and Sansa are less than pleased. The matter is concluded. Jon and Davos will take most of the troops South via the Kingsroad, while Daeny and others will leave by boat from White Harbor to go to Dragonstone. As everyone leaves the room, Arya tells Jon that the Starks need to convene.
In the Godswood, Jon protests on behalf of Daeny. Arya acknowledges (to Sansa's dismay) that Jon did the right thing kneeling to Daeny. They needed her army and her dragons. Now she claims that she is doing the right thing in telling Jon they (Arya and Sansa) think Daeny is untrustworthy. Arya pulls the family card, stating that the four of them (Arya, Sansa, Jon and Bran) are the last of the Starks. Jon says he's never been a Stark. When Arya says that Jon is her brother...not her half brother, or her bastard brother, but her brother. Jon, agonizing, looks at Bran, who simply says "It's your choice". And honest Jon spills the beans about his parentage. But it's okay, because he made Arya and Sansa swear they wouldn't tell anyone else.
Tyrion is saying goodbye to Jaime, who is staying in Winterfell with Brienne. Bronn finds them, and informs them that Cersei has promised him Riverrun if he kills Tyrion and Jaime. Bronn reminds Tyrion of their agreement – that if Bronn were offered money to kill Tyrion, Tyrion would double the offer to prevent it. What's the double of Riverrun, Bronn asks. Highgarden, is Tyrion's answer. Jaime protests, but Bronn points out that Jaime's ancestor who made their name was a cutthroat just like Bronn. He leaves, saying he'll find them when the war is done.
Clegane is leaving Winterfell, and he is joined by Arya – just like old times. He acts like he's not pleased to have her join him, but I think we all know he's chuffed. He says he has some unfinished business in King's Landing (*cough* Clegane Bowl), and she says she does too...perhaps her list needs another name crossed off? He says he doesn't plan on coming back, and she says she doesn't plan on coming back either. He asks if she'll leave him to die again if he gets hurt, and she says "probably".
Sansa watches from atop the wall as the dragons fly. Tyrion finds her there, and they discuss Daeny. Specifically, Tyrion wants to encourage Sansa to have a cordial relationship with Daeny. He points out that Sansa will likely be the power in Winterfell, as Jon will probably spend his time in the South. He tells Sansa that provoking Daenerys is not in the best interests of the Starks, to which Sansa accuses him of being afraid of Daeny. He admits that, and says that good rulers need to inspire a bit of fear. Sansa says that the men in her family have not done well in King's Landing. When Tyrion replies that, as Jon has told him, Jon is not a Stark...Sansa's promise to say nothing of Jon's parentage may not have lasted a full day.
Jon says goodbye to Tormund, who is going back north of the wall with the Free Folk. Jon asks him to take Ghost with him, too. Jon also says goodbye to Sam and Gilly (who is pregnant again). Gilly says that if the baby is a boy, they will name him Jon, to which Jon replies "I hope it's a girl". Sam and Jon agree that they are BFFs, and Jon rides away south.
On the ship, Tyrion and Varys discuss the news Tyrion has learned of Jon's parentage. Varys asks how many know. The count is apparently eight - Varys, Tyrion, Jon, Bran, Daeny, Arya, Sansa, Sam - which prompts Varys to channel his inner Ben Franklin (3 people can keep a secret if two of them are dead) and state that it will be common knowledge soon. Tyrion is concerned that Daeny will lose the North and the Vale, but Varys believes that more may prefer Jon over Daeny. He explains that people are drawn to Jon. Varys is sure that Daeny will not want to share the throne. Furthermore, he is concerned with how Daeny will react to this news reaching a broader audience. He toes the line of treason in exploring whether Jon would be preferable to Daeny.
Arriving at Dragonstone, the dragons are stretching their wings. Rhaegal seems largely recovered from the injuries incurred during the battle, but this recovery is short-lived when they are ambushed by Euron, who is lying in wait with an armada. They shoot massive bolts at the dragons, and Rhaegal is killed. Then the bolts are turned on Daeny's fleet, and they are routed. Missandei is taken hostage by Euron.
In King's Landing, Cersei has opened the gates of the Red Keep to her loyal subjects. She cares nothing for them, of course, but she thinks Daenerys might think twice before attacking the keep if there are thousands of innocents therein.
Daeny is beside herself. She has lost another of her "children", and she wants death and destruction to her enemies. Varys tries to be the voice of moderation, but Daeny is in the grip of what she believes to be her destiny, which is to rid the world of tyrants. Tyrion jumps in and argues that she should at least offer to avoid bloodshed. Daeny does see the reason in that; although she has no doubt bloodshed is inevitable, she believes it's better to have Cersei take the blame for it.
Varys seems to think that Daeny will become a tyrant in pursuit of eliminating tyrants. He steps another foot over the line of treason, and makes a case for Jon as King. Tyrion still believes in Daeny, though he tacitly acknowledges that Jon would likely be a better choice. Varys is adamant that he will do what is right for the realm, for the millions of unknowns who would suffer under a despot. When Tyrion asks what would happen to Daeny in Varys' preferred scenario, Varys replies with a knowing look which, translated from High Valyrian, means "duh". Lines are being drawn in interesting ways.
Back in Winterfell, they hear the news of Rhaegal and Missandei. Sansa tells Jamie that she'd hoped to be there when Cersei is executed, but it looks like she won't get the chance. Jamie decides, over Brienne's protests, that he must ride south. She tells him he is a good man, to which Jamie replies with a litany of some of the horrible things he's done, including murder. He rides away while Brienne sobs.
In front of King's Landing, a parley. Qyburn (on behalf of Cersei) and Tyrion (on behalf of Daenerys) meet to discuss demands. Daeny wants Cersei to surrender unconditionally, and for Missandei to be returned unharmed. Cersei wants Daeny to surrender unconditionally, and if she doesn't, Missandei will be executed on the spot.
Tyrion tries to enlist Qyburn to persuade Cersei to surrender. He says that he doesn't want to see the city burn. He doesn't want to hear burning children scream. "No, it is not a pleasant sound" Qyburn says, seemingly speaking from experience.
Seeing that he can't convince Qyburn, Tyrion bypasses him and goes right to Cersei. She toys with the idea of having Tyrion pincushioned right there, but deigns to let him speak. He appeals to her as a mother, stating that there is no reason for her and her unborn child to die. Cersei's response is to have Missandei killed. When given an opportunity to speak her final words, Missandei says "Dracarys" (which is what Daeny says to Drogon to get him to spit flame)... and then her head is swept from her shoulders by the Mountain.
Daeny's reaction and facial expression looks very Targaryen-like. Gray Worm's reaction is very unlike the Unsullied.
The director of the next episode is the same guy who directed Hardhome, Battle of the Bastards, and the Battle of Winterfell...so I don't think Cersei and Daeny are going to solve this with diplomacy.
Scenes From Next Week
Tyrion tentatively approaches Daeny at Dragonstone
Jon and the rest of the army have arrived at King's Landing
First, there were many problems with this episode. Logical disconnects, clichés, etc. I'm not going to list them all, because ultimately I believe that the episode was a very strong one despite the issues. It was not perfect by a long stretch, but it did what it needed to do – drama, poignant moments, conveying the chaos and fear and delivering on intensity.
Major shoutout to the composer. The music was beautiful and odd and jangly and pounding and ominous and all the things it needed to be in the moment. It added a lot to the atmosphere and my enjoyment of the show.
Now to the scorecard, which I largely lay out in the same fashion it was delivered, without much attempt to organize it:
Final preparations are underway at Winterfell, as errands are busily pursued. Lady Mormont is directing her troops. Theon and his men are taking Bran to the Godswood. People (and dragons) are getting their game faces on. Catapults and trebuchets are lined up. The Unsullied are in perfect order. The khalasar is ready. Jorah and Jaime and Brienne and Tormund and Beric and Sandor and Gendry and Edd and (finally) Sam are in place. And let's not forget Ghost...even though the writers seemed to.
Jon and Daeny watch the prospective battlefield from on high, surveying the troops. Davos, atop the walls, sees a lone rider approaching. It is Melisandre, the Red Witch, arriving suddenly and unexpectedly. She instructs Jorah to speak to the Dothraki, asking them to lift their weapons. She then grasps the leader's arakh (the crescent sword-like weapon) and chants a spell, causing the arakhs to burst into flame. It is a sight to instill hope in the defenders, although one wonders about the compatibility of flaming arakhs and long, oily hair.
Melisandre, passing Grey Worm and the Unsullied on her way to the castle gate, utters the words 'Valar Morghulis' (all men must die), to which Grey Worm replies with the customary response – 'Valar Dohaeris' (all men must serve). Davos goes to meet Melisandre in the keep. The last time they saw each other, Melisandre was banished upon pain of death for her role in burning Shireen (Stannis' daughter and someone Davos cared for deeply) at the stake. Melisandre forestalls and acknowledges Davos' anger by stating that she'll be dead by the dawn, so there is no need to punish her.
The Dothraki begin their ululating war cries and begin to trot, then gallop toward the unseen foe. Jorah rides among them, brandishing Heartsbane, the ancestral Valyrian steel sword of the Tarly clan. Ghost races alongside. Catapults and trebuchets cast flaming projectiles ahead of the riders. The lead rider has to crane his head upward to take in the undead giant that awaits him. In one of the more effective scenes of the battle, the only part of the conflict those back at Winterfell can see is the flaming arakhs...and what they see is the grand array of flames being snuffed out quickly and thoroughly. Many fewer horsemen return than went out, although Jorah is among them.
Alarmed, Daeny turns to mount Drogon. Jon catches her arm, advising her to wait until the Night King shows himself. She dismisses this advice, as her followers need her assistance.
The defenders on foot stand in anticipation, hearing the shrieks of the dead and the thunder of their footsteps approaching. The disciplined Unsullied form tight ranks, but the undead wave is overpowering. Next it is the flanks' turn. Brienne is swiftly overwhelmed, but Jaime is there to cut her free. It's a chaotic melee that knocks the defenders back...but then the dragons arrive. Drogon first, and then Rhaegal, lay swaths of flame across the ranks of the Night King's army. Sansa and Arya, as much as they have seen in their young lives, are amazed by the sight in front of them – mighty dragons swooping in to rain destruction upon their enemies.
As the dragons complete their circuit, Jon and Daeny see the White Walkers at the edge of the battlefield, just in front of the dense forest. Thinking they see an opportunity to take out some leadership, they angle in for an attack. A massive wall of winter intercepts them, blinding them and making it very difficult to make headway.
Seeing the oncoming wave of darkness approaching, Arya turns to her sister and instructs her to retreat to the crypts, handing her a dragonglass dagger. Sansa confesses that she doesn't know how to use the weapon. "Stick them with the pointy end" Arya instructs her.
On the field, the fog of war is both literal and figurative, and wights come from all sides to attack. Jaime and Brienne dispatch many. Clegane lays waste with his dragonglass axe. Jorah is knocked from his horse but whirls Heartsbane in successful defense. Sam struggles with a wight trying to put a dagger through his eye, and he is saved by Edd, who is subsequently killed as Sam watches. That's enough for Sam, who promptly flees the field. RIP Dolorous Edd. And now his watch is ended.
In the crypt, Sansa is received by Varys, and Missandei, and Gilly, and Tyrion, as well as all the women and children and elderly. Tyrion sees the look on her face and promptly takes a swig of fortifying wine.
In the air, Jon and Daeny crash into each other, so dense is the windblown snow.
On the ground, the order to fall back is given. The gates are opened and soldiers retreat behind the walls of Winterfell. The Unsullied guard their retreat, which is complicated by the barriers that have been built for the defense. Nevertheless, the Unsullied are synchronized in their movement, all moving a step back in time, while keeping their defense pointed forward.
Atop the wall, Arya and other archers lay down cover fire in the form of fire arrows. Arya picks off a wight tracking the Hound, and he takes note of her help.
Inside the walls, Lyanna Mormont directs the gate defense.
Grey Worm directs Davos to signal for the dragons to light the trench laid around the perimeter to give them some breathing room. Unfortunately, Daeny and her dragon can't see his signal due to the storm. Not sure why Jon doesn't light it, since he and Rhaegal have a perfectly good view of what's going on. Fire arrows are extinguished by the weather before they can light the trench. Soldiers with torches are intercepted. Melisandre steps forward once again and, under protection from a squad of Unsullied proves she can set things on fire. The trench of fire circumnavigates the wall, and the wights are unable to continue their assault...for the moment. Everyone who can breathe gets a breather.
Back in the crypt, Tyrion is pacing. For all that he's not a trained warrior, he's proven his courage, and he chafes at not being able to do anything. He thinks he might see something that others have missed. Sansa informs him that all he'd be able to do is die. Facing the truth is the most heroic thing they can do, since they are not capable of actually contributing on the field. Tyrion, perhaps seeing the very different woman in front of him compared to the girl he knew, suggests that they should have stayed married. Sansa says it wouldn't have worked, since his loyalty to "the dragon queen" would be a problem. "Yes" pipes in Missandei, "without the dragon queen there would be no problem at all, since we'd all be dead".
In the Godswood, Bran and Theon also see the wall approaching and the trench lit. During the respite, Theon wants to apologize to Bran for the horrible things he's done to the Starks, but Bran cuts him off, saying that everything he's done has brought him to where he is – "home". Bran then indicates that he's going to go, by which he means he's going to cast his consciousness out to a flock of crows to get some intel.
The Night King is up there, astride an undead Viserion. With a gesture, he has the wights in several places simply pile their bodies into the trench, to provide a bridge for other wights to cross without being burned. Davos, among the first to see the implications, starts yelling for people to man the walls. Wave 2 is here.
Jon sees the Night King in the air, and takes off in pursuit.
The dead pile up against the wall, climbing over each other to get to the crenellations. Most are defended successfully, but a few defenders are pushed back, and then more and more dead are fighting atop the wall instead of from below.
Now they are in the courtyard. The dragonglass embedded in caltrops is helping the defenders, but the numbers are just too overwhelming. Lady Mormont is standing in front of the gates when an undead giant breaks through. He knocks her and many others out of the way. Lyanna limps back to the attack, brandishing her dragonglass weapon and screaming in defiance. She is picked up and crushed by the giant, but as he brings her toward his mouth, she stabs him through the eye as she dies. The littlest warrior takes out one of the largest enemies.
Back atop the wall, Clegane is paralyzed by his fear of fire and by his belief that they can't win. Beric points out to him that Arya is still fighting (and man is she fighting, whirling the weapon Gendry built for her). She is fighting in retreat though, like everyone fighting a losing battle against the numbers. This snaps Clegane out of his funk, and he and Beric move to assist Arya.
Jon and Daeny fly above the wall of fog and snow, trying to figure out their next move. They are attacked from below, as Viserion breathes blue fire in an attempt to take out Drogon and Daenerys. Unable to reach her, the undead dragon dips back down into the covering fog. Jon and Daeny pursue.
Arya creeps through Winterfell, trying to avoid the undead wandering through the keep. For all the chaos outside, and the maniacal assault, the wights are a bit directionless when there aren't living foes in their "sight". Throwing the cliched distraction across the room, she quickly makes her exit as the wights all run the other direction. Just when she thinks she's safe, though, reinforcements arrive and bust through a different door. The chase ensues.
In the crypt, in one of the more subtly chilling sequences, those locked in can hear the sounds of battle outside, as soldiers beg for the crypt door to be opened. Nobody moves as they hear the soldiers being taken down by the dead.
Beric and Sandor search for Arya. All is quiet (too quiet?) until the door they are approaching is blasted open by a wight atop Arya. She's about to be killed, but Beric throws his flaming sword and saves her. Beric is stabbed many times as they race for safety. There's a point at which he Hodors it, but ultimately they move into a room and block the door. Beric dies with no grand speech. His purpose for being resurrected so many times has apparently been served, according to a lurking Melisandre, so he can go to his rest.
Arya recognizes Melisandre from when she was with the Brotherhood Without Banners. She recalls that Melisandre said they'd meet again. "You said I'd shut many eyes forever", says Arya. "You were right about that too."
"Brown eyes, green eyes....and blue eyes" Mel says meaningfully. Arya is picking up what she's putting down, and nods in agreement.
"What do we say to the God of Death?" asks Melisandre. "Not today," replies Arya, just as she used to respond to the same question posed by her dancing master, Syrio Forel, back in King's Landing. Was Melisandre actually Syrio Forel? Or did she merely see these things in the flames of her prognosticative fire? Arya marches away purposefully.
The Night King flies Viserion to an attack of the Castle, and although it does a fair amount of damage to Winterfell, it betrays his position. Jon and Rhaegal attack, and the dragons dance in battle. Viserion seems to have a bit of the upper hand, since it doesn't feel the wounds like Rhaegal does. Too bad nobody thought to have some fighting spurs made of dragonglass. However, Drogon comes in for the assist, and the Night King is thrown from the back of his mount. Rhaegal makes an awkward landing and Jon is thrown clear. We're not sure if Rhaegal is completely down for the count, but at any rate Jon is on his own. Daeny, meanwhile, continues to pursue the Night King. In the courtyard, Jorah hears the cries of Drogon and intuits that Daeny needs his help. He rushes out of the castle.
Daeny sees the Night King standing on his feet despite the long fall, and she utters the word you knew she would: Dracarys. The Night King is bathed in dragon flame. He has some amazing insulation, though, because once the flames die down, he is unscathed, and smirking. He picks up an ice spear, and Daeny has to retreat. Drogon is hit by the throw, it seems, but not fatally. Jon is there to chase the Night King on foot, but when he gets near, the Night King simply raises his arms and brings all the newly dead to his side. Jon can't get there in time to prevent it, as Unsullied, Dothraki, Edd and Lady Mormont become part of his army. They seem like the slowly wandering types, though, not the full speed baddies, so Jon is able to fend them off, but the Night King as his cadre of White Walkers are unimpeded as they march toward Winterfell. Jon is saved by Daeny and Drogon returning to the fray. Drogon lights the dead on fire, and as the dragon lands, Jon shouts to Daeny "Bran", to which she replies "Go". Because they're on the ground, though, the undead can swarm Drogon from behind, and they jump and stab in numbers. In his struggle to get airborne to cast off the wights, Daeny is thrown from Drogon's back. The sight of Drogon covered in wights is outstanding CGI. Daeny looks doomed, but Jorah is there to defend her. They race for cover.
Jon, in the castle seeking Bran, is plagued by potential distractions. There are Gendry and Tormund fighting a battle against bad odds. There is Sam being dragged down. Grey Worm, Brienne and Jaime, and other islands appear and disappear in the chaos, but he can't stop to help.
In the crypts, there are other implications of the raising of the dead. The Stark ancestors begin to break out of their mausoleums to attack those in hiding below the city.
Back in the Godswood, Theon and his soldiers defend Bran. They shoot flaming arrows at the wights, but as valiantly as they defend, they get picked off one by one until finally there is only Theon, all his arrows expended, only a spear left.
Jorah and Daeny are surrounded as well, only his Valyrian steel keeping them from being finished.
In the crypt, the women and children aren't faring too well. Tyrion and Sansa hide together behind a mausoleum and share some tender looks before taking a deep breath and trying to find their way out.
Jorah takes some direct hits while Daeny does what she can to assist. Jon evades the flames of Viserion. Jamie and Podrick and Brienne use their waning strength to continue to fight. The Night King marches toward the Godswood. Sam sniffles in fear, still alive somehow.
Bran returns from his fugue state, and calls to Theon. He tells him that he's a good man, and thanks him for his defense. Theon charges the Night King with his spear. The Night King catches the spear, breaks it in half, and impales Theon with the broken end. Dying, Theon is unable to prevent the Night King from walking up to Bran. Jon, outside the Godswood, can't get there because of Viserion, who now stalks him where he hides from the flames. As the Night King reaches for his sword to finish Bran, the Three-Eyed Crow and his enemy throughout the ages, Arya leaps to the attack. As the Night King turns, he grabs her dagger wielding left arm with his right hand, and her throat with his left hand. Arya drops the dagger to her right hand and guts the Night King with the very dagger that was meant to end Bran's life, and thereby saves Bran, and all of Westeros. Thanks, Littlefinger!
All of the White Walkers and wights were turned by the Night King or by those he created, and therefore a chain reaction ensues, in which the White Walkers, Viserion, and all the undead crumple...uh...lifelessly, I guess. Like their strings were cut. The battle is won. Life triumphs over death.
It's too late for Jorah Mormont, though. He dies from his wounds as Daeny sobs uncontrollably. Drogon wraps his wings around her and Jorah.
Melisandre wanders out of the castle, discarding her necklace that makes her appear young, and crumples in death as Davos watches. Her purpose, too, has been served.
Scenes From Next Week:
Cersei and Euron look satisfied at the size of their army.
Clean up on aisle four at Winterfell
Daeny seems to be leading the survivors
Sansa doesn't seem too pleased
Daeny says she'll rip her out root and stem, presumably speaking about Cersei
This entire episode takes place at Winterfell, and is almost entirely a setup for the next episode, which rumor has it also takes place entirely at Winterfell. The scenes are a bit scattered, and my notes follow suit.
We start with Daeny, Jon and Sansa sitting in judgment of Jaime in front of the Winterfell court. Jaime has arrived in Winterfell without a promised Lannister army. He has been one of the primary Stark antagonists throughout the show, and we are reminded that he was a strong Targaryen antagonist prior to that, when he earned the 'Kingslayer' moniker.
And yet Jaime is here to fulfill his pledge to fight against the dead, to forego the game of thrones in favor of the game of species survival. Tyrion speaks up for his brother, but Daeny doesn't want to hear it. Tyrion was certain that Cersei wasn't lying, but she was...so why should Daeny trust Tyrion's words of support for Jaime? Sansa piles on in agreement with Daeny's distrust, citing the things Jaime has done to her family. Jaime's defense is a measured one, arguing that he was merely defending and supporting his family, and that he'd do everything again. And then Bran stops him cold by reminding Jaime of his own words when he pushed Bran out the window in Season 1, Episode 1 – "The things we do for love". Is that a condemnation of Jaime or a confirmation that his argument makes sense?
It is Brienne of Tarth whose words tip the balance. She speaks to the honor Jaime displayed in defending her from rape. She speaks to the oath Jaime gave Catelyn Stark when she released him from his prison in the Riverlands, and how that oath sent Brienne to seek out Sansa and deliver her to Winterfell. She vouches for him. That is enough for Sansa, who trusts Brienne. It is enough for Jon, too, who needs warm bodies to fight cold ones. Daeny relents, and gives Jaime back his sword.
Daeny is still very angry, however, and she has words for Tyrion. Words like 'traitor' and 'fool'. Tyrion agrees with the latter, and Daeny threatens to remove his status as Hand. After she departs, Tyrion states to a trailing Varys and Jorah that one of them will likely be wearing the symbol of the Hand 'before it's all over'.
In the forge, the dragonglass weapon production continues. Arya stops by to ask Gendry about the progress of the weapon she designed, and which schematic she gave him last episode. Gendry condescends to Arya – his message is that he'll get to her weapon once he's done outfitting all the real fighters. It's clear that, however much he may understand her ferocity, he has no idea as to her training. He suggests she should be down in the crypt with the other women and children. He tries to shake her up by telling her that to confront these creatures is to confront death. An unimpressed Arya picks up a dragonglass knife and says 'I know Death', and she throws the knife left-handed into a post across the room. 'He's got many faces' – and throws another knife into the post right next to the first. 'I look forward to seeing this one' – and throws another knife right beside the other two. Gendry chuckles helplessly, very impressed. 'My weapon?' she asks, to which Gendry replies 'I'll get right on it'. Damn straight you will.
Jaime visits Bran in the Godswood. He apologizes for throwing Bran out the window, but Bran is dismissive of his apologies. He says that if Jaime hadn't thrown him out the window, Jaime would still be the person he was (and the reading here is – not a very good person) and Bran would still be Bran. Jaime wonders why Bran didn't tell the assembly about Jaime's actions that day, and Bran replies that Jaime wouldn't be much help in the fight if he were dead. When Jaime wants to know if Bran will tell on him 'afterwards', i.e. after the battle with the Night King, Bran replies 'How do you know there IS an afterwards?'.
Tyrion wanders the castle grounds amidst the war preparations, and encounters Jaime. Tyrion tries to persuade Jaime of Daeny's inherent leadership qualities, and bemoans his failure in trusting Cersei. Jaime does confirm his belief that Cersei is pregnant. Tyrion muses about his upcoming inevitable death, but Jaime has become distracted watching Brienne and wanders away. He sidles up to Brienne on the training grounds, observing Podrick's progress at arms. He praises Brienne, which she very much does not trust. She is used to his belittling her. It's quite off-putting to her to have him ask to serve under her leadership.
Jorah seeks out Daeny. He reminds her of all the mistakes he's made in her service, and how she has forgiven him. He then speaks in praise of Tyrion, telling her that Tyrion learns from his mistakes, and that he's the best mind to have at her service. It's hard for Jorah to admit to that, and it's clear that it has an impact on Daeny. He also makes one other suggestion...
...which seems to be that Daeny ought to clear the air with Sansa. Who ends up being another unlikely defender of Tyrion. Daeny points out that Tyrion never should have trusted Cersei, to which Sansa points out that Daeny shouldn't have, either.
Daeny swallows that, and tries again. She points out that she and Sansa have a lot in common, and yet they seem to be at odds. Sansa admits to being worried that, since Jon loves Daeny, he is subject to manipulation. Daeny's reply is a good one – she has been laser focused on winning the Iron Throne, and yet she is at Winterfell to fight Jon's war against the dead and possibly lose the ability to gain the Iron Throne – so who is manipulating whom? She (Daeny) confesses that she is there because she loves and trusts Jon. The bond being forged hits a sticking point, though, when Sansa wants to know what will happen to the North after they defeat the dead. Daeny removes her hand from Sansa's as she is likely about to tell Sansa that the North will bend the knee, when they are interrupted by the Maester, who informs them they have a visitor.
Theon is back. He informs Daeny and Sansa that Yara has sailed for the Iron Islands to take them back in Daeny's name. When Daeny asks why Theon didn't go with her, Theon turns to Sansa and says that he wants to fight for Winterfell. Sansa hugs Theon in answer.
Many vignettes follow:
Davos serves food to the common folk, and explains to them that they need to screw their courage to the sticking point and get ready to fight. He directs them to the forge to gather their weapons. He meets a fierce young lady who wants to fight, and Gilly helps him out by suggesting to the girl that she would be comforted to have her in the crypt defending Gilly and her baby boy.
Horns blare – riders are on the way into Winterfell. It is Dolorous Edd and the Night's Watch, much to Jon's relief and happiness. Their reunion is interrupted by a boisterous Tormund hugging Jon. Jon wants to know how Edd and Tormund and Beric joined forces, and they give him the news about the Umbers and the Last Hearth. 'Fighting for the Night King now' is the succinct status report. More bad news – Jon learns that the army of the dead will be there that night. Tormund wants to know if the big woman (Brienne) is still there.
The war council gathers. Jon lays out their plight – an enemy with far superior numbers who won't tire or stop. The conclusion is that they need to take out the Night King – since the Night King made all of the White Walkers and the undead, if he falls, all of them fall.
Jaime points out that the Night King will likely lead from the rear, then, and not put himself in danger. Bran chimes in and suggests that if he, Bran, were exposed, the Night King might risk himself in order to take out Bran. Bran says the Night King has tried before, with several others who were like Bran (3-eyed ravens). Why? Because Bran has access to the history of Westeros, and to eliminate him would eliminate much of the history of man. Bran wants to wait for the Night King in the Godswood, to lure him into the open. Theon volunteers to defend Bran with his men.
This approach is accepted, and Tyrion volunteers to be a signalman, but Daeny wants him in the crypt. She praises his mind and says that if they survive, she'll need his mind. It's an acknowledgment that she values him despite his past mistakes.
Jon wants the dragons to be near enough to Bran to defend him, without scaring off the Night King. When Bran is asked if dragonfire will take down the Night King, Bran admits that he doesn't know, because nobody has ever tried it.
Tormund makes sexy eyes at Brienne and says that they're all going to die, but at least they'll die together.
On that gloomy note, the council disperses.
Left alone with Bran, Tyrion asks Bran to relate his story of becoming who he is.
Grey Worm and Missandei are feeling out of place. He tells her that once they defeat their enemies and Daeny takes the throne, he will take her to her homeland, and they will grow old their together.
Ghost sighting! The dire wolf makes an appearance next to Jon while he's speaking to Sam and Edd. They reflect on their start in the Night Watch, with Pyp and Grenn. "Last man left, burn the rest of us" says Edd.
Jaime and Tyrion sit in front of a fire, also reflecting on their past. Others wander in – Davos, Brienne and Pod, Tormund. Tormund...well, it's hard to describe. He pours half a drink down his mouth, and the other half down his front, while telling stories about suckling at a giant's teat for 3 months, measuring dicks with Jaime, and trying to convince Brienne to have end-of-the-world sex. Tyrion lists the battle honors each person has, and when he gets to Brienne, he drunkenly and mistakenly refers to her as Ser Brienne. When he corrects himself, Tormund wants to know why she's not a 'Ser'. He says that if he were a king, he would knight her ten times over. Jaime comments that you don't need to be a king – just a knight. He has Brienne kneel, draws his sword, and taps her on each shoulder as he says "In the name of the Warrior, I charge you to be brave. In the name of the Father, I charge you to be just. In the name of the Mother, I charge you to defend the innocent. Arise, Brienne of Tarth – a knight of the Seven Kingdoms." Applause ensues. Brienne is visibly, unselfconsciously happy for maybe the first time in her adult life. Tyrion wants a song, and one by one he is refused, until Podrick sings Jenny's Song.
High in the halls of the kings who are gone Jenny would dance with her ghosts The ones she had lost and the ones she had found And the ones who had loved her the most
The ones who'd been gone for so very long She couldn't remember their names They spun her around on the damp old stones Spun away all her sorrow and pain
And she never wanted to leave
The song being sung twice (once by Pod and once over the end credits) could just be a nod to the books (what one of my favorite authors might call a 'gracenote') or it might be a significant clue to what's going on. Or anything in between.
****A note about Jenny's song - DO NOT READ if you don't want speculation, book spoilers or other musings not covered in the show****
The books have introduced a number of prophets. Maggie the Frog is noted for her prophesies surrounding Cersei. There is another, known as the Ghost of High Heart, whose prophesies are more varied as to subject. This prophet is believed to be a witch and former companion of Jenny of Oldstones. Jenny was a commoner who won the heart of Duncan Targaryen, who was the heir to the Iron Throne. Duncan abdicated the throne in order to marry Jenny, and the witch foretold that the Prince Who Was Promised would descend from the line of Aerys and Rhaella Targaryen, who were niece and nephew to Duncan. Aerys was Daeny's father...and also Rhaegar's father, who was father to Jon (Aegon). Is it possible that the song, then, was a nod to Jon being the Prince Who Was Promised? Or is it a red herring?
When folks have visited the Ghost of High Heart, she likes to hear Jenny's song as payment for her visions. She is possibly the companion of Jenny herself, although I'm not sure if this has ever been truly confirmed.
****END of Musings****
Arya finds Sandor atop the wall. She shares a drink with him while wondering why he's been joining the good guys. He replies that he fought for her. They are interrupted by Beric, and Arya takes that cue to depart. She goes to find Gendry, who has made that weapon for her. She tests the balance and finds it to her liking, and she quizzes Gendry about his history while whirling the blade around. He admits that Melisandre cast a spell using his blood, and that she told him he was Robert Baratheon's bastard son. He denies having sex with her, but does admit to having experience with women. Arya uses the end-of-the-world sex ploy way better than Tormund did.
Sam comes upon Jorah speaking with his cousin, the Lady Mormont. He is asking her to go to the crypt, but clearly he has no idea whom he's speaking to. She sets him straight, and departs with a wish for Jorah to find good fortune. Once she's gone, Sam presents the Tarly blade Heartsbane to Jorah. He credits Jorah's father, Jeor Mormont, with teaching Sam how to be a man and do what's right. And giving Jorah the Valyrian steel blade is the right thing. Jorah says he'll wield the sword in his father's memory, to guard the realms of men. Sam says he'll see him when it's through.
At long last, Jon and Daeny have their talk. They are in the crypts, and Daeny asks about the statue before which Jon stands. "Lyanna Stark", Jon replies. Daeny comments that everyone has told her of the goodness of her brother Rhaegar, and yet he raped Lyanna. Jon then confesses all. Rhaegar didn't rape Lyanna – he loved her and married her. They had a child, after Rhaegar died on Robert's hammer at the Trident. That child, born to a dying mother, was given to Ned Stark, Lyanna's brother, to raise as his own bastard, so that Robert Baratheon would not know that a Targaryen was in their midst.
"My name...my real name... is Aegon Targaryen". Daeny is in disbelief, and points out that if it were true, he'd have a claim to the Iron Throne as the last male Targaryen heir. The tension is thick, but they are interrupted by horns blowing. The army of the Night King has arrived. The question of the Iron Throne can wait.
I want to give a nod to the various scenes that were shown even ahead of the "previously on GOT" sequence. What a fantastic summary in pictures, ending with a key scene in the first episode - Bran looking through the window at Cersei and Jaime. More on that later.
Wow - somebody has spent some jack on the new credit sequence. Gorgeous. First we see the broken Wall, and then rolling tiles take us to a new locale - The Last Hearth, home of the Umbers. The Umbers are longtime Stark bannermen, currently ruled by a youth because their former leaders paid the price of supporting Ramsay Bolton. We then continue on to Winterfell, and then go *inside* Winterfell, to the crypts. Next (and last) in the sequence is King's Landing. Will this be the same path the dead take - Wall to Last Hearth to Winterfell to King's Landing?
The last episode of the season was just about all you'd hope for in a setup for the final season, at a macro level. Very Game-of-Thronesian, in that a series of cliches has been set up, and now we get to wonder how many will follow the exciting but predictable path, and how many will be knocked arse-over-teakettle and result in the Monday draining of watercoolers around the world.
This episode could have been titled "The Road to Abilene". For those of you who've never heard of it, The Road to Abilene is the story of how several people ended up going on a road trip that none of them actually wanted to take, due to each of them having a desire not to rock the boat. It's supposed to be a warning about groupthink.
So who the hell thought going north of the wall was a good idea? Sandor saw the vision in the flames. Thoros and Beric are serving their lord. Jorah is trying to serve Daenerys in any way she'll let him. Gendry is just happy to not be working for the Lannisters. Tormund was already at Eastwatch preparing to meet the dead, and he could consider it a scouting mission. But this was Jon's idea, and of all of them, Jon has cause to know what the White Walkers can do. He saw it up close at Hardhome. Bad call, brother.
Last week, someone asked why these threads are called "Scorecard". My answer was that I never intended to post anything about this show beyond my original post. Having been a follower of the source material almost from the moment there WAS source material, I was fired up about HBO's investment in the show. I convinced my wife to watch S1E1 with me and, while intrigued, she was confused by the names and faces, the relationships...the sheer volume of the show. So I gave her the GOT lineup - "this is Eddard Stark, goes by Ned, friend to Robert Baratheon the king since they were wards of Jon Arryn. He's husband to Catelyn, father to..." etc. etc. I decided to post it, and called it a scorecard as if one would use it to "keep score". Well, if you're keeping score, it's Gilly 1, everyone else ZERO. Seriously...the entire continent just got scooped by Gilly. And she doesn't even realize it.
And that was only one bit of oomph in an episode chock full of 'em. Fantastic episode in a way very different from last week's powerhouse. Lots of plot points to nibble on.
Oh yeah...and Eastwatch-by-the-Sea (no relation to Manchester despite the same surname) makes its appearance on the intro. Tormund!
A short episode, made shorter by how intense and impactful it was. Not much wasted dialogue or action here. Reunions galore, quotes referencing scenes from many years ago, and a dragon unleashed. All this, and the dead still to come. This episode was focused on fewer stories, and thus there was a lot of meat.
We are almost at the halfway point of the season. My sleep schedule is thankful, but I'm already anticipating withdrawals. And speaking of withdrawals, I will deeply miss the lady who, for my money, was the MVP of supporting characters for many seasons on the show. The twisted, darker version of Downton's dowager Countess. But way to go out with a serious roast, Queen of Thorns. Cersei's justice, Daenerys' justice, and your justice to round out the episode.
It took 6+ years to get all the players on the same continent, and now moves are being made that will have significant and very direct short-term consequences on the way this story ends. It feels like we won't be introduced to more characters, only to see them die without seeming to serve much of a purpose (hi there, Doran Martell). No more preliminary rounds full of pretenders (hello Freys, Baratheons...Tullys?). The list of players has been whittled down and all outcomes from this point forward will determine who moves on to the Finals - the Night's King awaits the winner.
To be clear, there are still roster moves underway. Will the North join with the Targaryens? Will there be a sundering in the South, with some of the forces of Highgarden (and her allies) serving Daeny, while others align with Cersei?
And wildcards may still be out there. The Riverlands seem to have no leadership with Edmure Tully in chains and the Freys dead, but presumably there are still men and materials...and what of the East under Robin Arryn (er...Littlefinger)? They're with the North for now, but that is obviously tenuous at best. Surely there is another twist to come there. I presume the answers will largely occur this season, so that the main event gets its due.
One of these days, I'm going to have to go back through all the scorecards on the @HornEsch site. Do a little housecleaning, refresh my memory of what I've said, etc.
I'm pretty sure a frequent occurrence has been my fandom for the naming of the episodes, and this one is no different. Dragonstone, where Daeny was born. Dragonstone, where she first sets foot again in Westeros. Dragonstone, referenced in Sam's studies for how to defeat the White Walkers, as there is a cache of stone on the island that should prove useful.
I've also frequently commented on the ever-changing intro sequence where they show the places of interest. Was this the first time we didn't cross the Narrow Sea?
This was a nice opening episode, as an effective stagesetter. We are reintroduced to the major storylines, we get a glimpse of some potential turning points, and everyone is now on the same continent for the first time in the show. I don't know quite what to make of the "Pete Carroll letting Snoop Dogg on the sidelines" bit we had, but for now I'm going to assume that it was a one off, and not a terrible one...for now.