We pick up immediately where we left off in Dragonstone, with Dany’s war council and oh boy, it is on. Dany’s squad might be lit but it’s also rife with interpersonal problems: Tyrion hates Ellaria and the Faux!Snakes due to that whole, murder of his niece thing. Olenna, unbeknownst to Tyrion, set homeboy up to take the fall for killing Ultimate!EffBoi Joffrey. Yara and Theon are a hot mess in and of themselves because of all the betrayals that Theon has perpetrated against pretty much everyone he’s ever met and his massive Ramsey ‘I like a little flaying in the morning’ Bolton caused PTSD. Then there’s Varys….
Since season one I’ve been waiting for the conversation that happens in this episode. For all that Dany is right to be wary of Varys due to his seeming fecklessness what he says to her, and everything he’s ever done on the show backs his words up, is exactly what needs to be said to her: that he is not about any king or queen. He absolutely does not care about her drama. All he cares about is her ability to take care of her people. What makes Varys the anti-Littlefinger is that everything he does is for the people, not for himself. Rulers come and go but the people remain and if your decisions don’t reflect what’s best for the people then you don’t deserve to rule. Dany has not, in all honesty, ever truly gotten that. I like her, don’t get me wrong, but she’s one bad day away from being Cersei. Her first instinct is always ‘return their cities to the dirt’ never once thinking about the people who live in those cities who have absolutely nothing to do with the decisions of their leaders. Varys calls her out on it in a way that no one since Barristan Selmy truly has, not even Tyrion, and it makes for a wonderfully charged scene as every actor in the room brings their a-game even though only three of them are speaking.
It also leads perfectly into what happens next: Melisandre showing up. I have to be honest, I did not expect Melly from the Block to show up this soon but I’m not mad. The reactions she evokes in everyone due to her very presence are well worth it and that’s before she brings the news of Jon Snow. The show gives us some wonderful continuity porn with Tyrion’s reactions and actions once he learns that Jon is not only alive but King in the North. He immediately vouches for Jon and advises Dany to meet with him. What’s most telling, to me anyway, is his reaction to Dany saying she will send for Jon…and demand he bend the knee. It’s a small thing but such a testament to Peter Dinklage’s acting that you can see in his eyes that he a: thinks telling Jon to do so is a huge mistake and b: knows that it will likely never happen. This is proven in the note he sends Jon, asking him to come meet with Dany, and not once mentioning her demand. I can’t wait to see how that meeting, with our three leads finally, finally, all in the same room goes down.
Over in King’s Landing Cersei is pushing the narrative of Dany ‘The Mad Queen’ Targaryen hard as hell. The problem is everyone knows she burnt down the Sept and killed her own people. You can’t claim to be ‘Protector of the realm’ when you murder you own citizens because you’re not in the mood to deal with the consequences of your own damn actions. Randyll Tarly’s old awful arse is there and, while I wish it weren’t so, gets onboard with betraying his liege lady, Olenna, to back Cersei so that he can hopefully add Highgarden to his own holdings. I can honestly say I’m disappointed because while Randyll is the absolute effing worst you would think after all the shite he constantly gives Sam he’d have some kind of loyalty and honor.
Speaking of Sam, he’s still in apprentice hell and being shut down every five minutes by Maester Ebrose (I incorrectly thought he was Master Lewellyn). However, as we all know by now, when Sam is fed all the way up he has a way of getting shite done. When he finds out that Jorah is the son of Jeor he goes all in to cure him of his grayscale, damn the consequences. I tell you what, Sam might not have the sword skills or be a wordsmith like Jon or Tyrion but he is still a badass in his own right.
In the North the Stark siblings are finding their footing in this new world order. Jon is making the hard decisions about what’s best for his people, and all the people, even if they’re not popular: heading to Dragonstone to treat with Dany in order to get the dragonglass. It’s an important scene for several reasons as we see Jon demonstrate, once again, that he’s not in this to rule people, nor will he blindly follow the passions/prejudices of those around him. It also shows the genuine love these people have for him already: they don’t want him to go because they fear for his safety (reasonable based on literally everything that’s happened to every Stark ever) and because he is their chosen king. Jon doesn’t believe it’s his ‘right’ to rule the north because he understands that in the end, if they don’t make allies and get what they need, he’ll be the ruler of nothing. I also really dug the respect and trust he showed Sansa by handing the reins over to her. He knows Sansa is far more politically savvy than him and that she knows these people well. He also knows that, despite what Littlefinger may think, Sansa has his number and even if she didn’t Brienne is not here for it and will end anyone who tries to take advantage of her. Leaving the North in her hands shows he’s not just talking the talk but walking the walk: Sansa is his equal. Period. I personally think she’s going to step up to the plate, especially as Arya, having found out that her home has been retaken by Jon in the Battle of the Bastards, is on the way home. Between the two of them things will be well in hand and hopefully Littlefinger will be ended once and for all.
Lastly there is the epic ending of this episode, with Euron getting Cersei’s ‘gift’: Ellaria Sand and her ‘brood of bitches’. I called the capture of Yara and the Faux!Snakes months ago but that battle between Euron’s forces and Yara’s was worth the wait. It’s a shame that we finally get a glimpse of who the actual Sand Snakes from the books are and they immediately get murdered.
- Qyburn is smart af, which is problematic, but unless he’s going to find a way to make the dragons stay in one place that giant crossbow is going to be ineffective and all it’s going to do is piss Dany (and the dragons) the hell off.
- However, we’ve seen set pics of almost everyone at the dragon pits, this gives me concerns. What we have not seen are any of the builds for the dragons there. Let’s hope Dany has enough sense to keep them far away from a location where they could be pinned down.
- Seven help everyone if Cersei and Qyburn do manage to kill one of the dragons because…
- Dany will actually go all the way crazy and
- That’s one less weapon against the Night King and one more potential weapon in his arsenal.
- I love Grey Worm and Missandei as much, if not more, than most people but I absolutely did not care to see their love scene. They could’ve literally kept the dialogue from the beginning, which was beautifully acted, and then cut to the end and I would’ve been happy. What a waste of valuable screen time.
- Jon looks at Lyanna the same way he used to look at Arya, he utterly adores that little girl.
- Speaking of looks: Littlefinger looks at Sansa and Jon like they are dessert and he’s a starving man. It is so utterly creepy and upsetting and makes me reconsider every interaction he had with Cat and Ned.
- Nymeria. That is all.
This episode, for the most part, kicks ass and takes names and felt like a season finale rather than episode 2. Four bolts through the eye out of Five.