Once more unto the breach, dear friends...
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?
A young man is racing to find a good vantage point to see the army marching into Winterfell. It is a mighty army in the terms of Westeros - thousands of disciplined Unsullied, along with chaotic Dothraki, parade in front of largely stone-faced Northfolk. Arya is there, mingling with the common folk, catching her first glimpse of Jon Snow since he gave her Needle. Jon is riding alongside Daenerys, and the Hound is not far behind. Arya sees him, too, and then Gendry in quick succession. She's not seen those two since she left for Braavos and the Faceless Men.
Varys and Tyrion ride in a carriage just ahead of Missandei and Grey Worm. Missandei is not feeling a lot of warmth from the Northerners, and the look she gives Grey Worm is not one born of comfort in her surroundings. Daenerys feels the same way, as Jon comments to her about "outsiders" and how they're viewed. However, her comfort level rises quite a bit as her two "children" fly overhead. In fact, she does a credible impression of Richard Pryor walking from the cell in Stir Crazy (that's right, we bad!). Most are panicked by the great beasts, but Arya seems entranced. Sansa, from her perch high above, is impressed but perhaps not quite so giddy as her little sister.
Arriving at the castle, Jon sees Bran waiting in his wheelchair. Dismounting, Jon gives Bran an embrace and an emotional kiss on the forehead, exclaiming "Look at you! You're a man!" to which Bran replies "Almost."...which is an intriguing answer, if you look for that sort of thing. Jon is nonplussed.
Moving on, Jon introduces Daenerys to Sansa. Daenerys greets Sansa very warmly, and Sansa responds politely but with a distinct chill. Message received by Daeny. Before things can get real awkward, though, Bran jumps in with the weather forecast - Falling Wall, gusts of undead and 100% chance of Daeny seeing her deceased third child Viserion.
Move to a war council. Sansa has ordered all Stark bannerfolk to come to Winterfell. Young Lord Umber is questioned as to why his folk haven't made it, and is sent back to Last Hearth with as many wagons and horses as Winterfell can spare. Jon also commands the Maester to summon the Night's Watch to Winterfell.
Fierce Lady Mormont pipes up with the question on everyone's mind - when Jon left Winterfell, he was the King in the North. When he returned, he had ceded the North to the Targaryens. Why? Jon replies that it was in an effort to protect his people. From Lady Mormont's facial expression, that was not a sufficient answer. Tyrion picked up on that as well, and addresses the crowd to let them know how dire the situation is, and to give Jon credit for whatever chance they have. He also lets them know that the Lannister army is on the way, which is a big hit with all the folks who have lost loved ones to the Lannisters (i.e. everyone in the room). Sansa asks the practical question of how is this army going to be fed...particularly the dragons...and what do dragons eat, anyway? Whatever they want, replies Daenerys.
Outside, Gendry is overseeing the unloading of wagon loads of precious dragonglass, which is one of three substances known to mess with the Night King's army (the other two being fire and Valyrian steel). On the balcony above Gendry, Tyrion approaches Sansa and Bronze Yohn Royce (leader of the armies of the Vale). Royce excuses himself to allow Sansa and Tyrion to speak privately.
After a bit of small talk (Tyrion - "last time we spoke was at Joffrey's wedding. Miserable affair." Sansa, smirking - "it had its moments"), Tyrion tries to explain why Sansa shouldn't fear the fact that the Lannister army is coming North. Sansa, shaking her head, tells Tyrion that she used to think he was the cleverest man alive. I guess believing anything Cersei says rules him out. A troubled Tyrion looks down and sees Bran looking up at him.
In the Godswood, Jon stands by the great weirwood tree, looking into the faces carved therein, looking back at him. He is startled by Arya, but their reunion is an emotional one. He notices that she's still carrying Needle. "Have you ever used it?" he asks. "Once or twice" is her reply. I wonder how shocked he's going to be at the changes that Arya has been through? Jon complains a bit about Sansa, and much to his surprise, Arya defends Sansa. She says she's just defending the family. Jon says he's part of that family. "Don't forget that" says Arya.
Qyburn races to give Cersei the news that the dead have defeated the Wall. Cersei is pleased by the news, although Qyburn thought it ill news indeed. Other good news for Cersei - it turns out Euron Greyjoy (who was lying when he said he was taking his fleet back to the Iron Islands) is back from Essos with the mercenary crew known as the Golden Company. Harry Strickland is the leader of the Company, much as Daario was head of the Second Sons. He brought 20,000 men with him, and 2,000 horses (but no elephants). Cersei is marshaling her forces, but she's not quite done yet.
Euron still holds Yara (Theon's sister) captive. He's using her as an audience to his self-perceived greatness. He tells her he intends to bed Cersei. In this, he is prophetic. Cersei, it turns out, is attracted to his arrogance, and she finally accedes to his desires. He tells her he's going to put a prince in her belly. Is one already there?
Meanwhile, Qyburn approaches Bronn with an offer from Cersei. Several chests of gold, in advance, as a price for taking out Jaime and Tyrion (should they survive the dead). She even gives him the same crossbow that Tyrion used to kill Tywin, and Qyburn intimates that richer rewards will follow his success. What will Bronn do?
On Euron's flagship, a hostage rescue is taking place. Theon leads a team that frees Yara. She steals the ship and plans to head back to the Iron Islands to take over, but lets Theon follow his heart back to Winterfell.
Back to Winterfell
Davos explains to Tyrion that Daenerys will struggle to get loyalty from the North. Tyrion asks for the answer, and Davos suggests that Daenerys marry Jon. "What if the Seven Kingdoms, for once in their shit history, were ruled by a just woman and an honorable man?"
Jon and Daenerys are speaking of Sansa's lack of respect, when news arrives that the dragons are barely eating. Apparently they don't like being in the North. Visiting them, Jon is invited by Daeny to ride Rhaegal while she rides Drogon. A far better-funded CGI experience ensues, capped off by snow sex under the eye of a serpentine voyeur.
Gendry is making dragonglass arrowheads, but with the arrival of the Hound, he picks up a dragonglass axe and presents it. Clegane, being the crotchety bastard that he is, starts picking on Gendry. Arya arrives and tells him to back off. "You left me to die" he accuses Arya. "First I robbed you" a cold-faced Arya reminds him. This pleases Clegane, who seems to have some fondness for her. He takes his leave. Arya presents Gendry with a diagram for some sort of dragonglass weapon. They banter. She's sassy.
Jon visits Sansa. Sansa lets him know that the Glovers will not be joining them. Jon is pissed, but Sansa explains that the Glovers didn't sign up to serve a Targaryen. She asks him if he bent the knee to serve the North, or because he loves Daeny. A good question...
Daeny and Jorah visit Sam Tarly. Daeny is grateful for Sam's service in curing Jorah of grayscale. She tells him he can ask for a boon, and he requests a pardon for stealing some books from the Citadel and the family sword from House Tarly. Daeny divines that he is the son and brother of the two Tarly men she had burned when they refused to bend the knee. Sam seems to accept his father's death okay (Lord Randyll was a prick to him at all times), but he struggles with his brother's death. He seeks and gets permission to leave, and stumbles outside to find Bran waiting for him. Bran tells him that it's time to tell Jon the truth of his parentage.
Sam finds Jon in the Stark crypts below the keep. Still emotionally reeling, Sam blurts out that Daeny killed his father and brother. Jon clearly didn't know. Sam points out that Jon has spared people who wouldn't bend the knee. Jon protests that he wasn't a king, inferring that it's different when you're king. Sam takes the opening to tell Jon that he has always been a king. That he is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. That Ned Stark was protecting Jon from Robert Baratheon's sure reaction to the existence of a Targaryen heir - murder. He doesn't go so far as to point out that Daeny is Jon's aunt. Presumably Jon can work that out for himself. But Jon isn't Jon. He's Aegon Targaryen, sixth of that name. He points out that Jon gave up his crown to save his people. He asks if Daeny would do the same?
The Last Hearth
Tormund, Beric and some men are outside the keep of the Last Hearth, home of the Umbers. There are bloody splashes in the snow - not a good sign, obviously. Going inside, they hear a noise. It's not the undead - it's Dolorous Edd and the Night's Watch. After nearly battling each other, they settle down and continue the exploration. The main room of the keep has an unsettling sight. Little Lord Umber, sent back to gather his people, is nailed to the wall, surrounded by spiraling body parts. He is undead and tries to stab Tormund, but Beric uses his flaming sword to set him afire. The corpse and assorted corpse parts burn eagerly.
Winterfell - third and final
A hooded horseman arrives at the castle. Dismounting, he pulls back his hood to reveal Jaime Lannister. Looking around, he can't help but stare at the young man in the wheelchair. And why not? The last time he saw that young man, he was shoving him out of a window to his likely death. Years later, that powerful young man is staring knowingly right back at him.
Scenes From Next Week
- Jaime stands where Littlefinger stood, and with about as much support
- Daeny and Sansa agree - Cersei can't be trusted
- Prepping for battle
- Jon and Daeny
- Arya and a bow
- Tormund with grim news