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.
This one gave me chills. Looking forward to this epic season!
Winter is coming, in July!