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.
Jon and Davos have arrived to visit Daeny. Tyrion tries to be welcoming, but Jon has come to a dangerous place, putting himself in the power of someone he doesn't know other than through family history. Immediately surrounded by Dothraki, forced to give up his weapons, his escape route, and dive-bombed by a dragon...it's a precarious position.
One of the most interesting aspects of this whole convoluted story is where the truth lies. For those of you who have not read the books, GRRM writes each chapter from a particular character's point of view. Sometimes you see the same event through the eyes of two different characters, which means you're not really seeing the same event (if that makes sense). So how is the truth determined? Ravens fly messages, rumors are exchanged in beds and over drinks, victors get to declare their own truths with none to gainsay them. Ultimately, though, nothing can replace standing across from someone and hearing with your own ears.
So, despite that fact that it has been six seasons since Jon and Tyrion last spoke, Jon heard Tyrion say that he respects Sansa, and that their sham marriage was never consummated, and that he's happy Sansa is starting to demonstrate her abilities. That has to go a long way toward creating the alliance that Westeros needs. A building of trust...
From above, Melisandre watches the visitors make their way toward Daeny's throne room. Varys inquires pointedly as to why she's not awaiting Jon's visit with Daeny. She responds that she has done her job, bringing ice and fire together, and admits that Jon wouldn't welcome seeing her. She admits to making terrible mistakes (hi Shireen), and that she would be a distraction. So, she's off to Volantis, but she will return. She tells Varys that she knows she will die in Westeros...as will he. Varys is reeling from that when he notices a ship in the bay.
In the throne room, Jon and Daenerys finally meet. It's not an even beginning...
"You stand in the presence of of Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, rightful heir to the Iron Throne, rightful Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, the Mother of Dragons, the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, Breaker of Chains."
Davos finally, after a meaningful look from Jon, says "This is Jon Snow." After a bit of an awkward silence, Davos adds "He's King in the North".
Daeny addresses Jon as "my lord", to which Davos points out that Jon is a King. Daeny points out that the last true King in the North swore that the Starks would serve the Targaryens in perpetuity, so she assumes Jon is there to pledge fealty to her. He informs her that he is not. Daeny says he came a long way to break faith with the Targaryens. "Break faith?" Jon asks incredulously. He points out that her father committed unspeakable atrocities on the Starks. Daeny admits that her father was evil, that she apologizes for those acts, and asks for his forgiveness. Another moment of trust building, perhaps...
Jon, for his part, admits that Daeny is not guilty of her father's acts, but by the same token, he claims that he is not beholden to his ancestor's pledge of fealty, either. He says he's there because they need each other's help. Daeny, as of now, does not believe she needs anyone's help. She's got the Dothraki, her dragons, and (as far as she knows) the Dornish, Ironborn and forces of Highgarden. Why would she need his help?
Because, says Jon, Cersei is a minor annoyance compared to the White Walkers and the army of the dead. Tyrion and Daeny are understandably skeptical of the direction this conversation has taken. Daeny gives a powerful speech about all she has been through, and what has gotten her through it - her faith in herself, not in gods, myths or legends. And Tyrion points out that they can't just ignore Cersei now that the war has begun.
Davos steps in (and steps too far?) and points out that Jon has been through just as much as Daeny, and that for all she's accomplished, Jon has done as much...and without any birthright to back him up. He says it's understandable that they don't believe Jon about the army of the dead, but "hard sons of bitches" have chosen Jon to lead them, and they believe in him. He says that Jon has sacrificed for his people, has taken a knife in the heart for his people, and starts to say that Jon gave his life for his people, before Jon cuts him off with a look. Davos ends by saying that the dead will kill everyone, and then it won't matter who sits the Iron Throne.
Tyrion points out that if it doesn't matter, why not go ahead and swear fealty to Daenerys?
Jon's answer is that he doesn't know Daeny, that Ned Stark fought to overthrow her father, and that he has been entrusted by the Northern lords to lead them. Daeny says that he is then in open rebellion.
Before matters escalate further, Varys comes running in. He breaks the tension somewhat, whispering news in Daeny's ear. Daeny dismisses Jon to have food and a bath. Jon asks if he is a prisoner. "Not yet" replies Daeny.
Varys' news is grave indeed. It's the news that their fleet is sunk, that the Sandsnakes and Greyjoys are dead or captured. "All of them?" asks Daeny.
Theon is pulled from the water by one of his ships. He informs the captain that his sister has been taken by Euron. That he tried to rescue her. "You wouldn't be here if you tried" replies the captain.
Euron brings his prisoners to the Red Keep. Yara Greyjoy he keeps for himself, but Ellaria Sand (murderer of Cersei and Jaime's daughter Myrcella) and Ellaria's daughter Tyene he presents to Cersei. He seeks to claim the prize he wants, which is the body of Cersei. Cersei tells him he'll have it...once the war is won. Euron taunts Jaime, asking how Cersei likes it.
In the dungeons below the Keep, Cersei has Ellaria and Tyene chained. Cersei has a two part revenge planned. First, she walks Ellaria in great detail back through the battle where Oberyn Martell had his skull crushed by Gregor. Then she kisses Tyene...using a poison lipstick, just as Ellaria killed Myrcella. Cersei indicates that Ellaria will be kept alive to watch her daughter die and rot. It may take hours or days for Tyene to die, but die she will...
...although if memory serves, Tyene saved someone from poison once. Maybe they'll return the favor?
All that cruelty got Cersei amped up. She visits her brother Jaime and performs various sexual acts upon him. She's not interested in hiding any longer, and lets the service see her brother in her bed. And to underscore the point, she says she'll need fresh sheets.
The Iron Bank representative (aka Mycroft Holmes) visits Cersei to discuss how the Lannisters can pay back the considerable debts they owe. Cersei, I have to say, does a masterful job of pointing out how uncertain any payoff would be if Daenerys were backed by the Bank. All that altruism (freeing the slaves) and consorting with dragons and Dothraki doesn't indicate a business mindset.
Cersei promises the Bank that she'll have everything paid off in full within a fortnight.
Back on Dragonstone
Tyrion and Jon discuss how to proceed with the negotiations. Jon is adamant that his issue, the dead, is paramount. He doesn't get why people don't instantly recognize that...unless they don't believe what he's seen. Tyrion actually does say that he believes him. But, as he says, people's minds can't conceive of problems that large. People want to deal with the ugly things right in front of them, not some theoretical unpleasantry.
Tyrion counsels Jon that there is more to Daeny than meets the eye. She delayed her claim on the Seven Kingdoms in order to help free the slaves. Perhaps Jon should try to see Daeny through the eyes of those who support her...and WHY they support her. He points out how unreasonable it would be for Daeny to drop all her concerns and fly North to face the dead based on one meeting with a man she doesn't know. "That's not a reasonable thing to ask", he says. Jon starts to walk away, and Tyrion says "So do you have anything reasonable to ask?".
Jon asks for access to the dragonglass. Tyrion speaks on Jon's behalf to Daeny to get access to the great stash of dragonglass on Dragonstone. He points out that it doesn't hurt her to give Jon access to the dragonglass...that she's giving him something by giving him nothing. It could bear fruit down the road in the form of another ally.
Daeny asks Tyrion what Davos meant about Jon taking a knife to the heart. Tyrion brushes that away, saying that it's dreary in the North and the people are given to flights of fancy.
Jon and Daeny then speak privately. Is there a frisson of attraction? Daeny suggests that nobody believed dragons would come again, and yet she has three. Perhaps she should not jump to conclusions about what is possible and what is not. "You've been talking to Tyrion", says Jon..."he likes to talk."
"People enjoy what they're good at", replies Daeny.
"I don't", says Jon.
Daeny informs Jon that she will let him mine the dragonglass, and will provide men and resources to assist. Jon says thanks, and then asks if she believes him about the army of the dead. Daeny's reply is to tell him he'd better get started.
Later, Daeny tells her advisors she wants to seek out Euron's fleet with her dragons and burn them. Her advisors talk her out of it, stating that even if her dragons succeed, it would only take one arrow to kill her, and she's too important.
Sansa demonstrates a certain capability for leadership, at least on the administrative front. Food stores, arms and armor production, etc. Littlefinger is very complimentary of her. He then gives her a bit of advice. Don't dismiss Cersei in favor of worrying about the dead. Fight all battles with everyone at all times. Be prepared for anything. If the dead win, then who cares about Cersei? But if the living prevail, then Cersei will need to be dealt with, and Sansa should be thinking now about how to defeat her.
They are interrupted by a soldier letting Sansa know she has a visitor. Brandon Stark has returned to Winterfell, along with Meera Reed. Sansa tries to tell him that he, as the last living trueborn son of Ned Stark, is now Lord of Winterfell. But Bran says he can't be the lord of anything, because he's the Three-Eyed Raven...which he has trouble explaining to Sansa. He tells her he's sorry for what she's been through, and makes it clear to her that he watched all that happened to her with Ramsay Bolton. Sansa is freaked out.
The archmaester examines Jorah and concludes that he is no longer infected with Greyscale. Jorah says the climate and good rest must have healed him, but the archmaester knows what's up. He tells Sam to meet him in his study that evening. Jorah and Sam say goodbye. Jorah is on his way back to Friendzone...er, Daenerys... and Sam shakes Jorah's hand in parting, which is the first human contact Jorah has had in ages.
Sam has to face the music with the archmaester. After a bit of upbraiding, the archmaester wants to know how Sam completed a meticulous procedure that proved too difficult for many a more experienced healer.
"I read the books and followed the instructions" replies Sam.
The archmaester tells Sam that he should be proud of saving Jorah's life... and then punishes Sam by making him copy old scrolls...lots of them.
Well, the war is going poorly for Daeny and crew, but here's another opportunity to win a battle. And that's just what Gray Worm and the Unsullied do. They come at the fortress from many sides, but in the meantime Gray Worm is sneaking through the sewers, which Tyrion had a hand in building out. Just as in Essos, they use this ploy to unbar the gates, and the Unsullied rush in and easily take the mighty stronghold.
But Gray Worm feels that the Rock should be more strongly defended...and he's right. It's a trap. Gray Worm's fleet is getting hit by the Ironborn, and the bulk of the army of the Lannisters is on the march elsewhere.
Jaime Lannister and Randyll Tarly besiege Highgarden, seat of the Tyrells. Well, it's not much of a siege. The Lannisters take the castle quite easily, and the victorious Jaime sits down with Olenna Tyrell to discuss how things have shaken out.
Jaime admits that they left a skeleton crew at Casterly Rock after stripping the stores and foodstuffs from the fortress. The Unsullied won't be able to stay in Casterly Rock for long.
Jaime says he learned to be where he wasn't expected from losing to Robb Stark at Whispering Wood, and that there are lessons to be learned in failure. Olenna says he must be very wise by now (Zing #1).
Olenna wants to know how she'll be killed. She asks Jaime if he'll use the sword he carries, that used to belong to Joffrey. She mocks Jaime's dead son (Zing #2).
Then Olenna points out that as many horrible things she's done to protect her family, it pales in comparison to Cersei. She tells Jaime that Cersei is a monster (Zing #3).
Finally, Jaime gives Olenna the poison she should take to die peacefully. Olenna asks if there will be pain, and is relieved to find out there won't be. She drinks the poison. Then (Zing #4 - the Big Zing) she says it would be horrible to die like Joffrey. He suffered far more than she intended when she poisoned him.
"Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me." says Olenna.
Scenes From Next Week
- Cersei builds a relationship with the Iron Bank, and seems to have the gold
- Daenerys loses patience
- A familiar knife?
- Podrick falls, and Brienne attacks
- Theon helps bring a boat ashore
- Sansa thinks deeply
- A dragon soars