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
- Euron is aboard his ship, and bolts are loaded
- The Golden Company marches
- Euron hears or sees something coming...