It was important to me to do the actor rating post from Wednesday night before writing most of this deep dive. Because, while ‘The Queen’s Justice’ has some exciting moments that we’ve waited for for what seems like a long time, in other cases we can’t quiiiiite kick it into overdrive.
And I wonder if it’s because we’re either running out of superstars, or trapping the ones we have.
So, I asked.
Is it just me, or are many of the powerhouses of Westeros pushing up daisies?
Take, for example, some of the departed family heads. Ned Stark, Tywin Lannister, Walder Frey and both Robert and Stannis Baratheon. Here’s how you rated them:
When you look at what’s left? Arya leads the Stark children in rank. Ratings for Sansa were higher than I expected, but Jon & Robb were middle of the pack-ish, and no one has any love for Bran. Rickon had the worst numbers of anyone on the show.
I’d bet a hundred golden dragons that those numbers would be higher if he ever learned to run in a serpentine pattern. Dummy.
Let’s bounce over to Dorne, for example. Everyone hates how Dorne was handled, but it started out with promise. At first you have Pedro Pascal’s Oberyn. Let’s look at his numbers:
Nasty. Those are just straight up nasty. Oberyn Martell enters the show with a thunderclap. His performance makes people believe. And then…he’s gone.
Alexander Siddiq replaces him, so to speak, as the primary face of Dorne. He’s a fantastic actor, but doesn’t have a lot to work with. Here are his numbers:
Then, of course, he’s murdered and Ellaria and the Snakes take over. Worst band name ever. Here’s what you thought of them:
See those diminishing returns?
So from a writing perspective, you’re initially writing for people who can make the words on the page come to life and grow wings and fly. You’re writing for people who can take your words and make them infinitely more profound and stirring.
And then, as time goes on, you’re writing more and more for actors who need to lean on your words, or use your words to prop themselves up.
And that, friends, is where we are as we round the ¾ post and turn for home.
This week, we bid farewell to Lady Olenna Tyrell, the Queen of Thorns. How was her acting rated?
That’s Tywin Lannister territory. She and Tywin share the highest acting ratings on the show. Only Tyrion is up around that territory. And his accent makes some people wish for a fork on a chalkboard sometimes.
That means, from now on, you can’t save an episode in the ninth inning by calling Diana Rigg to the mound. That fastball is gone.
You want to know why even some of the filler-ish scenes of yesteryear felt so compelling? Because you’re putting superstars on the screen. Remember Olenna and Tywin in a very basic, seated negotiation? It was great. Because you’re working with 10’s.
Likewise for scenes with Tywin and Tyrion and Olenna and Margaery. There’s a lot of skill at work in those scenes. You don’t get the same bang for the buck with Lancel and Loras.
This brings me to my thesis. I think, unintentionally, and through no real fault of anyone, we’ve pinioned more vibrant and skilled actors behind, shall we say, actors who are still developing.
Tyrion Lannister, for example,
…now has a regulator on him. He’s the Hand, and his buddy Varys…
…are both tucked behind Daenerys Targaryen.
We can’t get the fabulous wine-soaked missives that we became so used to in the past. We can’t get bawdy talk with Bronn because Bronn isn’t around anymore.
…is trapped in his own hell behind Jaime.
It’s not quite as devastating as what we lose in Daenerys’ shadow, (they have nearly identical numbers) but Bronn rocks, and we have yet to hear a single word from him this season. That poor bastard has to ride next to Randyll Fucking Tarly.
Randyll Tarly, where smiles go to die.
Varys and Tyrion are locked behind Dany. Jorah will be in that cage with them soon.
…are in Winterfell, locked behind Sansa…
…and possibly Bran…
…and Arya as well.
…are locked behind Jon.
…is locked behind the Brotherhood.
And no Ghost anywhere in sight to bail them all out.
One thing we’ve been able to count on is great antagonists, though. Look at the ratings for Joffrey and Ramsay.
That’s high praise, right there. Add Walder Frey’s 9-ish rating to that and boy have you got some firepower.
But they’re all dead.
Ded. Ded. Ded.
Replace them with, I guess, manufactured-out-of-thin-air Pilou Asbaek as Urine Greyjoy?
He’s much lower on my personal tally. And Cersei:
Again, statistically lower on my personal list. The things many of you love about Headey’s performance I see as acting crutches. Her smirk to me is Clooney’s head tilt on ‘E.R.’ You say potato I say travesty. But it’s fine. It’s still not Joffrey or Ramsay. And then you have the Night’s King, who I was going to include, but what would you be rating? How he lifts his arms? The makeup department? No.
As we head into the twilight of the series, our superstars are trapped behind other characters, and thus their ability to wow us is limited. Our antagonists are a foaming-at-the-mouth magical troll, a murder-fetishist whose blood is 47% vino and a frozen dude who doesn’t talk.
And so we have to rely on our leads.
And this is where I’ve begun to think of them like the kids from the Harry Potter movies. Because you cast a child with no previous experience, like Daniel Radcliffe, and you hope that he grows into this character, this icon, Harry Potter.
But you don’t know, really.
Likewise for the Hermoines and Dracos and all the Weasleys. And I’m a huge huge Harry Potter fan, but if we’re talking about pure acting here? Aren’t we sort of in the same boat as the Harry Potter franchise?
Gosh they’re adorbs. I love them.
But won’t we always lean toward giving those kids the benefit of the doubt because they’re part of our pop culture existence, and we love the story and we love them for being part of it, but can any of them…act? Like truly act?
And I’m not necessarily talking about what they’ve done since. While they were in that series, weren’t they carried along by some amazing plot and the superstar performances of Voldemort and Dumbledore? I mean, you have a murderers row of supporting actors there from Alan Rickman to Dame Maggie to Gary Oldman to Emma Thompson. You can’t tell me that Rupert Grint can hang with that. How could he? How many of those kids are actually acting still? Last I heard, Crabbe was a mixed martial arts fighter.
So it is with ‘Game of Thrones’. You cast a young Emilia Clarke hoping that she grows into the Mother of Dragons, but has she? Will she?
So, knowing this, seeing this take shape on set, you have to write her differently. You can’t stretch her too much. And maybe that’s why we get so many of these weird proclamation speeches from her that tend to make me bristle. That’s why, when we finally get to the clash of Ice and Fire this week, it wasn’t necessarily the explosion I hoped it would be. It certainly wasn’t bad either, it just may not have quite been the culmination of the many thousands of hours of frantic internet masturbation that preceded it.
—-Thanks to all who participated in the survey for helping me Moneyball this theory.—-
We opened this week with Jon and Davos arriving on the beach. The pace of this show has some people getting nosebleeds, but it’s nice to have jam-packed episodes. You won’t hear me complaining.
Jon and Davos step out onto a beach where a bunch of uneducated criminals already have their goddamn sickles drawn. I hate that Tyrion doesn’t have the power to bark at them to put their shit away. This is a state visit, not a hanging you assholes!
If I walked onto a beach like that after a long boat trip? I’d be pissed.
But they pretend to ignore it and power forward. And there’s Tyrion and Missandei.
Jon and Tyrion exchange friendly barbs and shake hands.
“The Bastard of Winterfell.”
“The Dwarf of Casterly Rock.”
So far so good.
There was warmth in the smiles there. Tyrion, though, is a little formal.
“I believe we last saw each other atop The Wall”
“You were pissing off the edge if I remember right.”
Yeeessssssss. Jon is trying to make a connection here. He’s reminding Tyrion that there’s a shared history there and that they can dispense with the formality. They are friends.
Jon lobs that serve to Tyrion, but now Tyrion is a Hand! Oooh la la! He kind of smirks at the memory and doesn’t respond with anything.
WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU TRYING TO IMPRESS, TYRION? THE FUCKING DOTHRAKI?
Jon comments about Tyrion’s scars, and Tyrion mentions that it’s been a long road but they’re both still there.
Yes, you’re both still there, Tyrion. Great! You also both have more scars and usually wear black, so you could both pass for Rave DJ’s in Budapest. Congrats.
Be more real Tyrion, you bastard! Be Tyrion!
Tyrion introduces himself to Davos and immediately knows who the Onion Knight is. They fought on opposite sides at Blackwater.
“OONLOOCKOOLY FOOOR ME” Says Davos.
I thought Jonathan Sneaux had a thick brogue, but that Davos? It’s like his tongue is wrestling a bullfrog for control of his throat. Cripes.
Then he announces his second, Missandei, “The Queen’s most trusted advisor.”
Huh, and here I thought Tyrion was the Queen’s most trusted advisor, what with being Hand and all.
Missandei asks for them to hand over their weapons. Like, right off the bat. That’s the first thing she says. That and “the queen appreciates all the efforts you’ve made ON HER BEHALF.”
That’s already kind of shitty.
The beach is adorned with a littering of Dothraki filth with drawn weapons. The two of them and a few illiterate oarmen are really going to take on fifteen rapists with corn scythes? Is this an invasion?
God I hate the Dothraki. Is it racist to despise a fake people? God I hope not. I’ve been hating on fake people for a long time. You can take those Dothraki and shoot them into space with the motherfuckin’ Ferengi and Saruman’s White Hand Orcs and Dementors and The Sith and Mass Effect’s Reapers and the Reavers on Firefly. I’m not a fan of any of them. Especially a roaming horde of uneducated rapists.
At least, that’s what the Dothraki Horde used to be.
Now? I have no idea. There are a hundred thousand of them somewhere on Dragonstone, with horses, but I have no idea where.
UGH! I DOONT REMOOMBER THAT SMELL THE LAST TOIME I WAS HERE.” Ser Davos may have said.
Yes, that’s the smell of a million horses defecating on an island the size of a small amusement park. I’d say you get used to it, but you never really do.
But no horse people to be seen anywhere. Except on foot, at the beach, taking weapons.
Jon was hesitant to come in the first place, what with all the duplicity of Southern kings and queens, but he needs Dragonglass to save his people. Giving up Longclaw right off the bat, though? Not cool.
Did anyone else bristle when that fucking Dothraki heathen touches Longclaw? I was ready to jump into the screen and punch that dude into Ramsay Bolton oblivion just for the lack of reverence he showed for that Valyrian steel.
Yeah, you’re a full head taller than the King in the North, you cocky grass jockey. Don’t you dare give Jon Snoog the side-eye. He will halve you like a watermelon on a post in any sword-learning montage!
Fucking Dothraki. God I hate the Dothraki. Did I mention that? Jesus.
Read a fucking book.
Tyrion and Jon are acquainted and so Davos does the appropriate thing and makes small talk with the other second. Some people read this as him hitting on her. That’s noots. He was just being an appropriate diplomat.
And I’ve never, ever liked Missandei less.
OHOHOH! I got munched by the Greyest Worm of all! I don’t have to make polite conversation! Mom says not to talk to strangers!
But then I realised, that’s not it.
Missandei is C3PO. She’s not a human. She’s a protocol droid.
That’s why she doesn’t talk to Davos, because there’s nothing there. She’s a lifelong slave, raised to do three things: speak several languages, know the gender of nouns in High Valyrian and obey.
No wonder she’s Daenerys’ must trusted advisor! There’s no there there! Missandei has been nowhere, really, other than where Dany has taken her. She has no life experience that we’re aware of. It’s not like she was Varys or Melisandre who, somehow, on their own, rose from slavery to reform themselves into something grand.
She’s just an app that translates and has excellent diction and gets great reviews for design. And yes, she has a sinister ripcord insta-nude feature, but is she more than that? If she was, that conversation with Davos was the time to show it.
Now we’re on the great wheelchair ramp to the sky. And there’s some small talk about Sansa. Tyrion is intent to let Jon know he didn’t bang his sister.
Side note: See, Lord Baelish? Men are very basic. Pathetically basic, really. “I didn’t bang your sister when I could have” tends to get much less strangulation than “I’m really hoping to bang your sister.”
Jon’s like “I didn’t ask.” But it’s important and Tyrion wants him to know.
And the line that gave me great hope for the episode:
Tyrion: She’s much smarter than she lets on.
Jon: She’s starting to let on.
That’s a stand and applaud line and delivery.
And THIS, this is the relationship we want for these two. No bullshit. They’re both battle-weary and they know the game. But again, it’s Jon offering honesty here.
This is where Tyrion needs to ask everyone to stop and give he and Jon a couple of minutes on the skybridge. He needs to say:
“Look, you and I are tight, but the queen I represent has been doublecrossed a billion times.
I wish I could just wave a wand and make her trust you the way I do, but I’m not entirely sure she even trusts me yet.
Just understand that she’s slow to trust but a truly good person, like you. And she’s hoping that you’ll offer her your fealty. I know, I know. I didn’t put that in the Raven because I know how gruff and proud you northern bastards are with your snow and your wildlings and weirwoods and shit. I knew you wouldn’t come.
Now I’m not saying you have to do that, of course, I’m just telling you here, on the longest pedestrian overpass in the seven kingdoms, that that’s what she’s looking for so you don’t get shocked and feel like I set you up. Okay? We coo?”
Jon even gives him an opening when he says “my bannermen think I’m a fool for coming here.”
And instead, Tyrion is like “yep, if I was your Hand I would have advised against it. Stark men don’t fare well when then travel south.”
But Jon is saying TYRION: I’M HERE BECAUSE OF YOU, BRUDDER.
And Tyrion needs to let him know that he’s safe. And that as much as he can, Tyrion will keep him that way.
Before that can happen, Maverick does a flyby and both Jon and Davos hit the deck.
Tyrion helps Jon up and says “I’d say you get used to them, but you never really do.”
Jon looks up at the dragons in pure amazement. He’s seen a lot, THIS Jon Snow, but he hasn’t seen dragons. And that’s a moment.
“Come. Their mother is waiting for you.” Says Tyrion.
That’s a bullshit move there. Because he’s using the power and majesty of the dragons to inflate the perception of Daenerys. “You think those are amazing? Wait until you see the all-powerful bitch that sprung them!”
Jon just follows, because he’s not as quick with the wit, but Varys or Littlefinger would have bit Tyrion’s head off for that dalliance.
Far above, the Red Woman stands at a lonely vigil. Like a seventh grader outside a High School dance. Boy, she’d like to be down there. But Davos is there, and even though they’ve taken his sharps, it’s a long fall off that six mile long free standing welcome mat.
Varys pops over to rub salt in the wound.
Mmmmmm. Oh my lady! You BEGGED us to invite your precious little King Johno. OH MY RED LOINS THROB FOR THE KING IN THE NORTH. And yet, when he arrives, here you are, perched on a cliff like an ivory gargoyle. WHAT’S WRONG? DID YOU MAKE AN OOPSIE?
But, she says, she’s done her part. She’s brought Ice and Fire together.
Well, whoop de friggin doo! Responds Varys, albeit more eloquently. Why is she up here? He didn’t take her for a BASHFUL GIHRL.
Her time whispering in the ears of kings has come to an end, she admits. But Varys doesn’t believe her.
Nor do I.
Because all of a sudden it’s somehow crystal clear what her mission is? Her communications protocols from her own direct superiors in management are laughable.
That org structure is like Mel on one end with R’hllor on the other end and FIRE in the middle.
Imagine if I sent you to work every day and you have to get your email by looking into a fire. You have to get your job description by looking into a fire. I’ll bet after a few hours of that, you’ll start to see whatever the hell you want to see.
“My job is to…uh….attend the Guns and Roses concert and um….let’s see, that’s a blueish flame there, so I think that means I need to get drunk. Yes, that’s it. I’m sure of it! The Lord of Light wishes it so!”
And if you screw up? Well, you read the flames wrong. No shame in that! Flames are a notorious BITCH to read.
“Oh! You didn’t want me to see G&R? You wanted me to convince Stannis to burn his only daughter alive? Wha? How did I miss that? Oh yeah! I see it now. Red tongue of flame over here is kind of orangish. Yep, okay I see it now. My bad.”
So now, Melisandre has apparently gotten some pretty convincing flames.
She’s supposed to bring Fire and Ice together. Check.
She’s supposed to make for Volantis. Okay.
And then she’s supposed to come back to Westeros to die. Simple. That was right there in the flames! It’s as plain as the nose on your face! Even the idiot Hound can read the flames!
And he’s a cantankerous idiot.
Varys thinks it’s a solid move for her to netjet away to Volantis and he urges her not to return, lest he be unable to protect her.
I can’t remember Varys threatening to kill someone before. I’m pretty sure he snuffs out Grand Maester Pycelle and Kevan Lannister in the books, but I don’t remember him ending anyone on the show. Do you? It’s done so mellifluously, through a veil of concern, the way a master dimplomat would phrase it, but there’s no love there.
Side note: That was a typo, writing dimplomat, but I’m leaving it. A dimpled diplomat. It’s a happy discovery, like the slinky. Or teflon.
Varys abhors black magic. It’s what happens when a dark wizard shears your bone and stones off to make a +3 spell of demon summoning.
We know Varys heard a voice in the flames the day his dong was Mr. Potatoheaded off him and lobbed into a firepit, but we don’t know what he heard. Was it possibly about his own death? The sorcerer that he crated up and shipped had actually cast him out into the street to die, but he refused to die.
He was determined to live! (Cue the Celine Dion in 3….2….1 and okay let’s have some wind and Varys can spin around on the cliff top…that’s it! Good! Have him throw his head back and laugh! Perfect! Perfect! Have him raise an eyebrow at the camera like OOH YOU THOUGHT I WAS DEAD BUT MY SHIT IS FIERCE! Perfect!)
So Varys says “don’t come back or you gonn’ die.”
And Mel says “Oh I will return, Dear Spider.”
No one calls him Dear.
No one calls him The Spider to his face.
I kind of love how The Red Witch is like oh go fuck yourself, Varys. I’m like seventeen Diana Riggs old, motherfucker. You can’t scare me.
“Oh I will return, Dear Spider, one last time-
“I have to die in this strange country. Just like you.”
OHHHHH DAMN THE SPIDER! YOU JUST GOT BLACK MAJIKED, BOYEEEEEE!!!
In an episode where powerful women get in some kick-ass last lines, Melisandre, the Red Woman of Asshai, powerful, world-changing, child burning, king whispering Priestess of R’hllor (Holla)The Lord of Light, we bid you and your overall 7.6-ish rating adieu until we need a deus ex machina resurrection in the future.
(I know some people were kind of hoping that he’d nudge her off the cliff and to her death, but of course, had he tried, he would be left holding an empty red cloak and a raven with a gold necklace would just fly away, cawing mockery at him.)
Now, hold on to your genitalia with BOTH HANDS PEOPLE! Because Fire and Ice are about to get busy!!!
In thiiiiiiiiiiis corner! Sporting the most expensive braided wig ever made, wearing virgin white and sanguine burgundy and maple walnut brown, weighing in at a dragon-birthing 114lbs, The Rightful* Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and the First Men. And the Andals, whoever the fuck they are.* The protector of the Seven Kingdoms, (even though she’s never been to them before!) The Mother. OF. Dragons! The Khaleesi of the great grawsss sea! The Unburnt! The Breaker. OF. Chains! Your one, your only, head of House Targaryen, Daenerys ‘Stormborn’ Tarrrrrrrrrrrgarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-yen!
WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP!
And in this corner, wearing something from the Cortez Conquistador section of Walmart, weighing in at juuuuuuuust a skosh over eleven stone, your one, your only……
He’s, uh…The King in the North.
What a great moment. So we’ve got a few so far, I have to admit. I’ve watched it three times, and I was a little reserved at first, but as we break it down, I keep liking it more than I did! Sweet! Happy day! Let’s keep this looooooove train a-chuggin!
“Thank you for traveling so far, my lord.” Says Daenerys.
Davos jumps in. Apologies, he says. Jonathan Snorgh is King in the North. He’s not some piddly ass Lord with a fucking fake ass name who writes on the internet. He’s a King!
And then Dany begs forgiveness, she never had a formal education, what with all the FUCKING RAPING AND MURDER AND MISERY AND RUNNING FROM ASSASSINS MY WHOLE LIFE.
And before anyone can say “segue from hell” Dany has launched into a convenient history of Torrin? Stark, who ‘bent the knee’ to her ancestor.
Jon hears BEND THE KNEE and his hackles go up. Immediately he looks at Davos and sighs.
He glances around to see if maybe they brought Longclaw into the room.
You guys may or may not remember, but when Qhorin Halfhand let Jon kill him, he was intent that Jon get in with Mance Rayder, so that his sacrifice wouldn’t be wasted.
When Jon was brought into Mance’s tent, he was still relatively unproven, he was still Lord Commander Mormont’s errand boy at the time. The Lord Commandership and freeing the wildlings and Battle of the B-boys were still a ways off. He was just a plucky young shit with promise.
So he goes into the tent and kneels to the most fearsome looking man he sees, who turns out to be famed Beardist Tormund Giantsbane. Everyone of course makes fun of him and Mance walks out from a corner of the tent and they explain that they do not kneel.
If wildlings had a sigil, that’s what it would say: We Do Not Kneel.
Later, when Stannis and Davos ride in and in the words of Tormund, they cut through the wildling army like piss, Stannis offers Mance his life if he but kneel.
Mance is sorry, he says, but we do not kneel.
And then they threaten him and they’re like “uh, but we’re gonna like, kill you in the worst possible ways and shit.”
“Nevertheless,” Mance says calmly, “we do not kneel.”
I love me some Mance Rayder, and I like to think that Jon Snoo does too. I like to think that he admired the character of a man, who, at his darkest hour, still held true to his beliefs and his sense of self worth.
Granted, that’s why people get killded, like Ned Stark, but I like the rock-solid character of it.
So Dany is like “Torrin Stark swore FEALTY to my ancestor in perpetuity. What does that mean, talking muppet from Casterly Rock?”
“Forever.” Says Tyrion, like a good slave might.
Now, at this point, all parties are generally behaving. Dany is very calm, but her intent is clear, you are here to kiss the ring. And in fairness to her, there isn’t a single person who, in her life, has ever refused to kiss the ring and not paid for it with their life.
Think about it: With the Dothraki. In Qarth. In Astapor. In Yunkai. In Meereen. With the Dothraki 2.0. It’s a foregone conclusion.
She is the most powerful person in the world and the people that don’t know it yet only have to find that fact out, either the easy way or the hard way.
So imagine that.
As long as you can remember, the only thing that happened is that somehow, some way, you came out on top with your enemies dead or in chains. I can imagine that you would begin to believe that was the only real order of things.
So, here you are, finally ‘home’ in Westeros, where things matter, unlike the slime pits of Essos, and you’re having your first official state visit. And here he is, this rather unpolished, gruff Northerner in a ¾ length, heavy leather dress, one assumes to hide boners when he lays eyes upon you, and some corsair boots.
And you have to start somewhere, so you deign to be pleasant, because that’s how you see yourself. Pleasant, even when you don’t have to be.
And then you find out that your first state visit, this uncouth barbarian calling himself a king, is not here to kiss the ring.
But, see, there is only death or kissing the ring. There is no “what’s behind door 3?”
There is no door 3.
So she lays out the history and asks, ‘or do I have my facts wrong’. Polite, but with growing consternation.
Do I have my facts wrong? Is what you say when you absolutely 100% know that you don’t have your facts wrong.
It says here on this legally binding contract that the cost of an electrician and plumber is INCLUDED in the price of the kitchen remodel, orrrr do I have my facts wrong?
“I wasn’t there, Your Grace.” Says Ser Davos.
“No, of course not.” Says Daenerys, smiling. Oh you sweet Flea Bottom bumpkin. You’re adorable enough to eat. I might just keep you on my mantle like an elf on a shelf. Of course you weren’t around 200 years ago. But an oath is an oath, is it not?
By this time, with all this fealty and oath and kneeling talk, Jon has glanced at Tyrion like three times, trying to get a read.
This is why Tyrion needed to hook a brother up on the bridge. This is why Jon needed the 411, because this doesn’t feel like a state visit anymore. It’s starting to feel like something more dangerous.
Thanks, Tyrion, you little prick.
Jon sighs. Like a deep deep sigh. Thoracic and diaphragmatic breathing, chest and belly both. Because ain’t this a motherfucker. Nothing is ever easy for Jon Snoo. Goddamn, goddamn.
“I assume you’re here to bend the knee.”
And Jon sighs and shakes his head.
“I am not.”
And Dany says, “Oh, well that is unfortunate.” Because then you must die. See the much ballyhooed ‘NO DOOR 3’ clause.
“So, you travelled all this way to break faith?”
This is where Dany starts to get into dangerous ground, because all she knows is that there are two options. She’s never been in a room with someone like Jon before. She doesn’t know he, too, is a dragon.
And the ‘break faith’ line, while it sounds like something you might titter to a beau over teacakes in Kensington, is basically saying SO, YOU’RE A LIAR?
That’s not something you say to the King of the fahkin’ Nawth.
Jon half-laughs. You’re calling me a faith breaker? Because when you start burning people like your family did, I’m pretty sure that ends the ‘handshake agreement’ phase of the deal.
Jon is heating up…”he would have burnt the Seven Kingdoms…”
And Dany cuts him off. She doesn’t get high and mighty.
Instead, she asks forgiveness.
This is a really respectable choice for Dany here. In fact, it’s so shocking, and dare-I-say so uniquely female of a choice, to own responsibility for transgressions rather than pretend they didn’t exist. It’s admirable. So much so that Jon glances at Tyrion again, this time in surprise.
I have to admit, on the third watch, I like Dany’s demeanor much more than I did the first two times.
She makes a very rational plea. Please, Jon Snow, the only peace this world has ever known was with a Targaryen on the Iron Throne and a Stark as Warden of the North. Just kneel and I’ll name you that and we can call in the Fleetwood Mac cover band waiting right through those doors and spend the next three days jamming to Rhiannon. What say you, John Snow? Can we have peace?
Jon chooses his words carefully.
He knows not to judge children by their father’s crimes. He literally made the very same argument at the last moot when he reaffirmed the loyalty of Ned Umber and Alys Karstark.
After this last pleasant request from Daenerys, all she wants is a yes. A kneel. A no will not do.
And Jon says no.
Her mouth turns downward. She’s done playing with this thug. Then why are you here?
“Because I need your help, and you need mine.”
“Did you see three dragons flying overhead?”
Okay, here we go. It’s Dragon Time! Cue the Dragin’ Braggin’!
And did you see the Dothraki? All of whom are sworn to KILL for me?
Notice: not fight for me. KILL for me. As in, I will KILL YOUR BARBARIAN DRESS-WEARING ASS RIGHT OFF YOUR HOT, BARBARIAN DRESS-WEARING BOD.
“They’re hard to miss,” he says with a smile. God I love you Jon Snow. I’d charge screaming into a House Bolton shield wall if you’d smile at me like that just once. You’re a goddamn beaut.
But Dany can only see the NO in front of her. A NO to Daenerys Stormborn means DEATH. CAW CAW! DRACARYS! DRACARYS!
Ser Davos is like, yeah we’re not talking about King’s Landing, yo! Hell, we almost took it and we didn’t have dragons.
“Almost.” Tyrian emphasises.
HAHAHA! That’s stellar. We sometimes forget how important both men were in that battle. Or at least Tyrion was. The Onion Knight just got his ass blowed to Kingdom Come and wound up marooned on a rock for like three weeks eating the wildfyre scabs off himself for nourishment.
Yeah, Davos thinks. I already said OONLOOCKOOLY FOOOR ME you little Lannister prick. I already chewed up and swallowed my proide on that accoont. You want me to knit it onto a fucking throw pillow for you?
Now it’s The King of the North’s turn to pitch.
“We’re all a bunch of fucking children” he begins, basically.
“I thought you said you liked this man.”
“In the time he’s been here he refuses to comment on my purty ringlet hair things, he refuses to swear eternal loyalty to someone he just met and now he’s calling me a child?”
“I believe he’s calling all of us children. Figure of speech.” Tyrion says, trying to pull Jon back from the brink.
“Lady, we’re all gonna die if we don’t band together and fight the enemy to the North.”
“From the throne chair in Targaryen High Command, you’re looking like the enemy to the North you metal-necked Ponce De Leon.”
“I am not your enemy.” Jon says, matter of factly. “Stay with me here…because I know this is gonna sound a little cukoo cukoo heh heh…so the enemy to the North is…um…I know it sounds crazy…but…”
“Yes yes? Who is it?”
“This is a village idiot, right? You guys are putting me on. Am I getting punk’d right now, with no E? Where’s the camera? You guys had me for a second there with the no fealty and shit. Wooo boy! The Dead! As fucking if!”
“I’m not a village idiot. I’m Jon Snow, the King of the North.”
“Okay Dothraki, kill his dumb, lying ass.”
“Whoa whoa! The army of the dead is real. The white walkers are real! The Night’s King is real! If they get past the Wall, we’re all dooooooooomed. Doomed, I tells ye!”
Dany doesn’t believe him. Remember the No Door 3 clause, now she gets to do the thing where she reminds herself why this infidel will die. Robert Baratheon, who sent assassins to kill her, was his dad’s BFF. That’s one reason.
Side note: How come Varys isn’t in this meeting? Is it too far of a walk off the cliff? Is he still up there rubbing his blank Ken doll front against a tree and mumbling about how he hates black magic? Is he really proud of not knowing Jon Snoo and trying to still be able to say “this Jon Snoo” in conversations? Is he not in the inner circle anymore now that Dany has shamed him in front of the Red Witch?
And why does Varys shave his head? Is it because he has blonde, Targaryen hair and doesn’t want anyone to know? Just because you’re a eunuch doesn’t mean you can’t have hair like Patrick Swayze in ‘Roadhouse’, right? But I digress. Why isn’t he in that meeting? The first and most important meeting in Westeros?
Is it because he’s needed later to run in and clear the room when he hears of Euron’s attack? But in week two, Grey Worm attended the meeting and he was still able to announce that a Priestess from Asshai had arrived. Attendee and butler. We’re meant to believe that Grey Worm can wear more hats than The Spider?
Okay! If you say so.
And now we get a little approach vector walk n’ talk that highlights the absolute fundamentally worst part of Stormborn’s personality. I’m not kidding when I say that when the writers don’t know what to do with her, they just make her hyper aggressive and unlikeable.
So she lists of a litany of her strife, and how the only thing she had was faith in herself, in Daenerys Targaryen.
Not cool Dany. Not cool.
I have never, ever used my full name in a sentence outside of filling out forms verbally at the DMV or shit like that. Can you imagine? Talking about yourself like that? The delusion? The heightened self-importance?
Well, I say to you, fellow Pajibans, LORD CASTLETON IS NOT HAVING IT. LORD CASTLETON GETS BY EVERY DAY BY RUBBING HIS ENTIRE BODY WITH COCOA BUTTER AND THEN PAYING A ZEBRA TO LICK IT OFF HIM. SO WHEN LORD CASTLETON HEARS THAT SOMEONE ELSE IS OUT-FIRST-PERSONING HIM, LORD CASTLETON GETS HOT UNDER HIS ARTIFICIALLY MOIST COCOA BUTTER COLLAR AND LORD CASTLETON SHUTS THE DOOR.
See, D? It’s not charming.
Can we REALLY blame her, though?
She’s only ever won. Jon Snooogh would already be a head on her porch and she’d have his Flea Bottom myna bird in her trophy case if Tyrion hadn’t vouched for this fool.
Army of the dead? Fuuuuuuck you. I conquered every city I’ve ever been in! I conquered the unconquerable horse lords of Essos and never once did anyone wake up and come n’ get me. I shit lightning and piss dragon fire. You think I fell off the last motherfuckin’ yam wagon? Tell your dead guy bullshit walkin’, bub.
“I was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms. And I will.”
“You’ll be ruling over a graveyard.”
I love that they’re both very stubborn and set in their ways. While it’s not great for Perestroika, it sets up the whole immovable object and irresistible force dynamic. She’s right up in his grill. Her blood is up. His isn’t. He’s from the North. He has ice in his veins. Northmen can’t afford to lose their cool and they can’t afford to take their eye off the ball.
Because no matter what she says or how pissed off she gets, the dead are coming. Every second. Very, very slowly.
Tyrion steps in. We’re already at war, homie! It’s not like we can magically call back our ships! Who are we, fucking Euron Greyjoy?
Now the Onion Knight steps in. Holy mary mother of god do I love Ser Davos. People who didn’t give him a 10 on the actor rating should be forced to watch NBC.
“You don’t believe him. I understand that. It sounds like nonsense. But if destiny has brought Daenerys Targaryen back to our shores, it has also made Jon Snow King in the North. You were the first to bring Dothraki to Westeros? He was the first to make allies of Wildlings and Northmen. He was named Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. He was named King in the North. Not because of his birthright, he has no birthright, he’s a damn bastard. All those hard sons of bitches chose him as their leader because they believe in him. All those things you don’t believe in. He faced those things. He fought those things for the good of his people. He risked his life for his people. He took a knife in the heart for his people. He gave his own L-“
Jon looks at him.
There’s only so much fiction anyone will believe.
Davos moistens his palate and finishes.
“If we don’t put aside our enmities, and band together, we will die. And then it doesn’t matter whose skeleton sits on the Iron Throne.”
Now that’s a much better pitch.
“If it doesn’t matter, then you might as well kneel. Swear your allegiance to Queen Daenerys. Help her to defeat my sister and together our armies will protect the North.” Says Tyrion, still trying to deliver the key thing: the kneel.
“There’s no time!” Jon Snow says.
“It takes no time to bend the knee. Pledge your sword to her cause.”
“And why would I do that? I mean no offense, Your Grace, but I don’t know you. As far as I can tell your claim to the throne rests entirely on your father’s name and my own father fought to overthrow the Mad King. The lords of the North placed their trust in me to lead them and I will continue to do so as well as I can.”
Here’s the point where Dany points out that by naming himself a King of one of her territories, he’s in open rebellion.
Jon can’t believe he has to deal with this penny-anty boolshit. It’s about to get ugly when Varys jogs in with news. Dany hastily clears the room and Jon asks if he’s her prisoner.
“Not yet.” she replies.
Goddamnit, D. Come on.
I mean, I get it. She has an operating philosophy and a ponytailed plaintalker from the North who can see dead people like Bruce Willis in ‘The Sixth Sense’ doesn’t really fit into that.
Once Jon and Davos are out, Varys delivers the bad news. Everyone is dead or captured.
“All of them?” Dany asks.
And we cut to Theon being pulled from the ocean like a waterlogged turd. He’s dumped unceremoniously on the deck because these are the Ironborn. They’re the Dothraki of the sea. There’s no pomp and circumstance unless you’re designing a Rolling Stones-esque dropjaw boarding plank with flameshooters and a bluetooth speaker system that plays “I’m a Boss” on a loop.
Theon is just laying there, coughing up seawater, when my new favorite person comes over to check on him. This dude is BAD ASS. Where you been all my life, bruh? With the exception of Yara, this is the first time I’ve ever liked any Ironborn.
Anyway, my bro susses out pretty quickly that Theon chickened out and walks away. Talk about checking off a box. Yep, Theon’s still alive so that he can someday kill Euron and die a hero.
I hate when you’re forced to defend people you don’t like. And I’m not sure I like the general populace of King’s Landing. Between the Cersei walk-of-shame mysogny and now them yelling whore at…I’m guessing the Dornish? But maybe Yara too? I’m starting to see the Mad King’s point of view. Vermin.
I mean, I’m not ever condoning wholesale murder, but I get why he’d want to.
I hate seeing Yara like this. I mean HATE. She’s so passive. Her arms at her sides, being led by a leash. Her disgusting uncle is talking about how this sexually arouses him. Fucking deplorable.
Ellaria and Tyene are getting the worst of it. Being spat upon. Getting hit with vegetables.
Um, HELLO? Is there a bumper crop of cabbage I don’t know about? Winter is HERE people! You better stockpile all that cabbage! Holy hell! Throw a lampshade or a baseball mit or that crappy deck of cards your aunt got you from her trip to Braavos! Throw shit you can’t eat, people!
The point being, the more I see of the ‘kindhearted’ folk of King’s Landing, the more I start to quietly root for the Night’s King.
Euron Greyjoy, folks. Euron Greyjoy. Basking in the love of the people. Laughing that the common folk are cheering a Greyjoy. I’m not a book reader, but this smacks as very pointed. The Greyjoys are villains. Pirates. They’s as soon steal from you as look at you and then they’ll leave you in the ocean to rot.
Cheering for a pirate? En masse? A bandit? It’s….absurd.
So, warping past the fact that his whole existence is a bucket of pig vomit, (complaining about Euron Greyjoy is SO LAST WEEK!) You have to admire this brash entry. And when he laughs about what a coward Theon was to Yara and calls Theon a “twat”? That’s about as good as that delivery could have been.
And then he has the GAUL, the unadulterated CHUTZPAH to ride his damn horse into the Red Keep. You remember who the last person to so that was?
That’s right. Tywin Lannister.
Oh Euron Greyjoy.
I recapped Tywin Lannister. Tywin Lannister was my hero back in the day when he held Westeros in his palm. You, sir, with the smell of cat food and three day old barley in your lamb chops, are no Tywin Lannister.
So all smiles and kisses, Euron rides into the Red Keep.
I’m watching Jaime there, wondering how he can stand it. God it’s so…demoralizing. Because obviously, Cersei has to play her hand, but man, this…twat. My god.
Before I watched this episode, I’ll admit to having some dread. Some actual, honest-to-god dread about the torture porn we might see in this scene. And when they walk in, they show a one-shot of the Mountain, looming over them in his idiot helmet.
Is…that the technical name for the new look of the Queensguard? Idiot Helms? Because I don’t get what those even are.
It looks like a reimagining of Cersei’s metal shoulder pauldrons look. I know that’s redundant. It’s like saying hand gloves. But I don’t know how many people actually know what pauldrons are.
So you have the pauldrons, inlaid at the top and then seemingly cut and pasted down to the elbow, to protect the upper arm region. You have these Darth Badguy helms, which remove any semblance of humanity. They make the wearer look somehow less like a person and more like a thing, which is certainly the intent. Under the helm, the Queensguard wears kind of a black spandex balaclava with only eye holes cut into it, but in the shape of isosceles triangles rather than having rounded edges, further removing any suggestion that the wearer is a human being. And they have a full metal breastplate, where the usual emblem of the King’s crown has been replaced with what appears to be a depiction of Cersei’s crown.
While being more menacing, the Queensguard somehow looks more feminine as well.
I’d say mission accomplished, really. Congrats to Qyburn, who I’m sure designed, forged, inlaid and sewed everything. He’s a precious commodity, that Qyburn.
So they bring us in and they show us The Mountain and then they cut to Ellaria Sand looking up at him, and when I saw that I tensed up a bit, because you remember the stories about Oberyn’s sister, Elia Martell, being raped and then literally cut in half by The Mountain. Nauseating. You know, after all these years, I feel like I would have built up a tolerance for all this heinous shit, but somehow I feel like I’ve gotten somehow more queasy about it. Maybe it’s just me.
So are we about to see the same happen to Ellaria?
God I hope not. This whole Dorne everything, with the beautiful and magisterial exception of Oberyn, has been the wank to end all wanks. In so many ways I want it all to be over, but like Switch in ‘The Matrix’, I’m like “Not like this. Not like this.”
“My Queen!” Euron says “Please accept this gift on behalf of all your loyal subjects…in the Iron Islands.”
As great as the ‘twat’ delivery was, this is the opposite. The delivery is trash.
“I give you what no other man could give.” He says, looking at Jaime. “Justice. Justice for your murdered daughter.”
Ellaria spits at Cersei’s feet.
Then Cersei and Euron have a little wordplay, yadda yadda, he’s the greatest captain on the 14 seas. Fourteen. Huh. I didn’t know that. Okay! And she’s like , “you’re a friend” and he’s like “don’t friendzone me” and she’s like “you shall have what your heart desires”
And Jaime looks at her.
Aaaaaaaand now we have our second mic drop where a woman has the last word and leaves a man standing with his mouth open.
Last week I said that if Euron brought the goods, Cersei wouldn’t be able to refuse. And she didn’t, sort of. But I’m not sure if she’ll ever go through with it. In fact, later in the episode, she openly sleeps with Jaime, and I wonder if that isn’t some ploy to set Euron off of her. Or a ploy to intentionally put Jaime and Euron at loggerheads so Jaime will do her dirty work for her.
Anyway, Cersei gets up and makes a speech, maybe the worst speech you’ll ever hear. It’s like when you read the fine print on a shitty pamphlet and think “why did I read that? That was a waste of my time.”
“With Euron Greyjoy commanding our naval forces and Jaime Lannister leading our armies, the sons and daughters of Westeros shall defend our country.”
And everyone breaks into applause.
WTF? I fucking HATE these sheep. That was the single worst speech in ‘Game of Thrones’ history. Mace Tyrell’s waxed mustache had more gravitas. That speech meant nothing.
And who is it for? The fucking terrified, pants-shitting plebs Qyburn paid to clap whenever words pass out of Cersie’s wine hole? This is a despotism. She doesn’t need the approval of like nineteen scared dipshits in the Red Keep.
Jesus Christ, Jaime! GET OUT OF THERE, DUDE.
Euron says how awesome the love of the people is, but that Jaime wouldn’t know. And Jaime says that this exact mob spat on his sister not long ago.
Yes, Jaime! Yes! That’s the perspective you need.
But then Euron reels him in, does she like it gentle or rough?
Jaime steps toward him, fucking ASTOUNDED by his callousness, but Euron backs off, his own mission accomplished.
And we hold on Jaime. And he looks…old. Grey at the chin. We remember when Ned Stark came to King’s Landing and Jaime was his troll. Always trying to provoke him. Ned was walking to his first Small Council meeting, just minding his own beeswax, and Jaime got in his face and said “The King shits and the Hand wipes.”
Remember when Jaime murdered Ned’s right hand man, Jory, in cold blood? And then just as Jaime and Ned squared off, one of the Goldcloaks speared Ned in the leg from behind?
Yeah, Jaime knows.
He remembers being that cocky.
It’s so goddamn easy to let your mouth play when your body can back it up. When you’re that dominant, you’re dying to fuck up someone. You can push any button because the worst case scenario is that you get to do what you do best and end some fools.
Once upon a time Jaime Lannister was the greatest swordsman in the land. But no longer. We haven’t really seen Jaime fight since Dorne, but back then, he barely beat some assembly-line mounted guard.
Euron? After what we saw from Euron, there’s no doubt he’d rip Jaime apart.
So, what do you do when you can’t back it up anymore? What happens to old lions who can’t protect their pride?
Jaime knows what happens. Time will tell if he has a plan to stop it. The brawn is gone. Now he’ll have to use his brains. If he has any.
Euron bows with a flourish and leads Yara back out. Interesting. He didn’t make a gift of one of his own. Perhaps he’ll have to finish her himself. Maybe that’s an Ironborn thing.
Damn. Now I feel some dread again. Yara deserves so so so much better. Fuck this show for making cool, intelligent, fun-loving natural female leaders expendable and letting the Cerseis of the world topple them. Fuck this show in it’s stupid face!
Retraction: Dear Show, I’m sorry I said that. I still love you very much. Please don’t hurt Yara. Just have Euron leave her on an island somewhere where she can meet a pretty boy and girl and marry both of them and have a great time and make strawberry rhubarb pie that she sells at an honor-stand by the side of the road. M’kay? M’kay. Love, Lord Castleton
With that we cut back to The Mountain.
This time, he’s an ominous presence in a cell, watching over the imprisoned Dornish leader Ellaria Sand and her daughter Tyene.
This is Cersei at her most magnificent, and by that I mean spiteful. Most hateful. Most vengeful. Most cold and bitter.
There is a moment, in her nearly unbroken monologue, where the image of her own daughter and the thought of her seems to soften the dark queen a little, but then she’s back. Rock hard, ice cold.
She admits that she stays awake at night, thinking of ways to kill her enemies. Yikes. I mean, I’m not surprised, but that makes for a particularly unfulfilling existence. I imagine that some people are like that, laying awake in bed, scheming. But you have the sense that vanquishing her rivals is all Cersei thinks about. Ever.
And that sort of ties in with what Sansa was saying about her.
That somewhere, every night, Cersei is laying awake, thinking about how to kill Sansa. And now Jon.
Cersie takes her time in the prison cell, talks about how it sounded to hear Oberyn’s skull pop, and how she heard Ellaria’s scream. She thought that was the sound of true love, that scream.
It was, actually.
And she rubs Tyene’s face and comments about how lovely she is, a true Dornish beauty. And then she kisses her.
And once again, Qyburn is the MAN.
Qyburn, you see, has figured out how Ellaria killed Myrcella, and as turnabout is fair play, Cersei decides to return the favor. Qyburn has either mixed or procured The Long Kiss Goodnight and the antidote. Because THAT’S HOW QYBURN DO, Y’ALLS.
Tyene will die in that cell. And Ellaria will watch her die, and watch as her daughter’s body decomposes. And Ellaria will be made to watch all of it.
Even for Cersei.
But thank god we didn’t have to see either of them get tortured.
The music kicks in and Cersei leaves the cell in victory, another enemy destroyed. She rushes to a seated Jaime, who had just planned to get drunk by himself and mumble at his golden hand, when in barges his sister.
She’s on him like stink on shit, and he’s like “No.”
That’s interesting. Because he kept going the last time she said no. But now she wears the motherfucking pants.
He tries to resist, but she’s coursing with righteous hate passion and before he knows it, an appendage he didn’t lose is in the Queen’s mouth, and like a dumb animal, he stops kicking. We can’t be judgemental about this! Let he who hasn’t had an insta-blowie from a royal murderer like six seconds after the actual murder cast the first stone!
In the ancient pantheon of blowjobs, the power trip blowjob is among the best. I’m gonna suck your dick whether you like it or not! It is known.
So they wake up in the morning, in bed together and Cersei intentionally shows the sordid scene to…I think her name is Bernadette. Cersei has all of her ladies in waiting in black now, with short hairdos, as befits an evil queen.
Jaime protests, but she says that she’ll do what she wants.
I haven’t felt right about Cersei’s intentions with Jaime since she asked him if he was afraid of her. And watching her treat him like a piece of meat? I worry for that boy.
Now we’re in a meeting with Tycho Nestoris of the Iron Bank. I suspect the Iron Bank is more important and relevant in the books, but here? It’s tough to make a seated scene interesting where no new information is being conveyed.
The long and short of it is that the Lannister’s debts are being called in. The Iron Bank has a concern about their ability to pay and the wide array of enemies they have around them.
Cersei assured him that they’ll pay in full by the end of the month.
Are they going to rob a bank?
Yes, as it turns out. They are.
I’ll say this: people love Lena Headey’s Cersei. She certainly has some kick-ass moments, but I’m not quite as high on her as most. That said, you can’t take away from her the fact that she’s been a major player — a key character — since the very opening of the show. How many people can actually say that? But I feel like I aged six years watching that Iron Bank scene. Sometimes, watching the way her mouth moves, I feel like I can’t breathe.
So when we are ported to a sunny shore and out of Cersei’s bleak, joyless office, I feel like I can finally inhale again.
And finally, we get the scene I was hoping for on the bridge. Tyrion and Jon, looking out over the sea.
Tyrion makes a great joke about how he’ll never brood as well as Jon. ::cough:: fanservice:: cough::
Man, what a shot of those two on that cliff. Great cinematography again. I’d shit a camaro if they asked me to stand up there. I don’t love edges.
But they stand there like champions. Trading barbs. And while Tyrion is the master wordsmith, Jon actually has truth behind him. He’s a prisoner on the island.
Tyrion mumbles that he’s not a ‘prisoner’ and he can walk the castle, etc.
Jon doesn’t want to play fookin’ word games with the imp. The DEAD ARE KOOMIN.
Then he shakes his head. Tyrion doesn’t believe him.
“I do, actually.” Says the Hand.
“You didn’t before. Grumpkins and snarks you called them. Do you remember? You said it was all nonsense.”
But now, Tyrion says, he believes him. He trusts the eyes of an honest man more than ‘what everybody knows’.
Jon is at a loss. He doesn’t know how to convince people.
“How do I convince people who don’t know me, that an enemy they don’t believe in is coming to kill them all?”
I KNOW IT’S A GOOD FUCKIN’ QUESTION! I’M LOOKIN FOR AN ANSWER!
Hahaha. This is great. Goddamn, I like the dynamic between these two. I can’t speak for the women who watch this show, but I sometimes feel like the writers don’t know how to write female friendships. Margaery and Sansa was kinda/sorta close. But you never get the sense that there are two women on staff capturing the essence of close-knit relationships between women. Brienne and Cat? Kinda? But it was more fealty than anything. Arya and Lady Crane, maybe? Maybe that was the closest.
But dudes? Dudebonding? They nail that over and over again. This is a perfect example. This is how men talk to each other and have it work. These guys haven’t seen each other for years, but they can kind of shit on each other a bit and it’s not misconstrued as anything but a version of friendship and closeness. Jon can get testy with Tyrion. Tyrion can mock Jon for being a daffodil and giving up.
WAAAAHHHH I’M JON SNOO! THE BEBE OF THE NARTH! WHERE’S ME SHIP? I WANT TO GO HOME! THEY TUKE MA SHEP! WAAAAHH THE DED ARE KOOMIN!
Tyrion is like, I’m trying to help you, ass. Captain Assmaster. What do you need?
Cut the the war room:
We’re back with Daenarys. Her shit is strung tight. Ringlet hair locked and loaded.
WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT GLASS?
Hahaha. That may be my favorite Daenerys line in some time. Why indeed?
Tyrion is like look, honey, baby, mamacita, schnookums. You didn’t even know you had it. What’s a little dragon glass between friends? It means nothing to you!
Then they have this great little riff with each other where Daenerys catches him trying to pass off his own ideas as ancient knowledge.
“I would never do that. To you.”
She smirks. It’s nice. GIVE ME A REASON TO LIKE DANY AGAIN, SHOW. I SWEAR TO GOD I’LL TAKE IT. JUST MAKE HER LIKEABLE.
Tyrion has her all but convinced to give him the glass, if only to keep him occupied while they focus on Casterly Rock, when she remembers what Ser Davos said about Jon taking a knife in the heart for his people.
Tyrion deflects it, calling it a flight of fancy and saying “it’s dreary in the North.”
Daenerys looks at him, unsure.
As many people attested to in the poll, Emilia Clarke can sometimes be challenged in the acting chops department. But she is a true beauty to look at, and as she gets older her face seems to grow into the nobility of her role more.
Goddamn I want these people’s lives. How much time do they spend looking out at the sea. Now she’s the one brooding in that high-end wig. They don’t have peak TV on Dragonstone. They don’t have Facebook or Slack channels to keep up with. I’ll bet Daenerys Targaryen hasn’t ever written a ‘Game of Thrones’ recap. Not one! They just look out at the sea and wait for beautiful hunks in furs to stomp down to them.
Must be nice.
Still not a horse in sight, by the way. We’ve been on like nine chairlift-height vantage points and not a single appaloosa anywhere.
Daenerys is brooding in a posh grey cashmere ensemble with flared shoulders and a fuck-you, three-headed dragon brooch. As Jon approaches, she…actually talks to him like a person.
She named the dragons for her brothers. They’re gone. He lost two brothers, too, didn’t he?
He nods. Three brooothers actually. But he’s not a dick. He’s not going to one-up her in dead broooothers.
Jon knows right away that she’s been talking to Tyrion.
“He is my Hand.”
“He enjoys talking.”
“We all enjoy what we’re good at.”
I’m sorry, I may have just blacked out a little from the awesomeness. What does Jon do best?
HE KILLS PEOPLE.
And he doesn’t enjoy it. Muah muah muah. I’m kissing my fingers that little exchange was so tight and so good.
And he’s looking out to sea when he says it. Maybe to the North, where he’s done all his killing. Daenerys studies him. Mama like! She likes a man who knows how to lop off a head or two. And that fur….oooooh….much better than the Pizarro Premiere Collection from Kmart.
She licks her lips. Mmmmmm.
Okay, she doesn’t actually lick her lips. But her eyes say that she’s considering licking her lips.
She reels it in. Time to put the mask back on.
“You know I’m not going to let Cersei stay on the Iron Throne.”
“I never expected that you would.”
“And I haven’t changed my mind about which kingdoms belong to that throne.”
“I haven’t either.”
And she looks at him like YOU STUBBORN ASS. THERE IS NO DOOR 3. GODDAMN IT.
But still, there’s something about this man, this ruffian, this gruff Northern King. Something.
She takes a breath.
“I will allow you to mine the dragonglass and forge weapons from it. Any resources or men you need, I will provide for you.” (Because honestly I need to put the Dothraki to work. Like the old saying goes, an idle Dothraki is a murdering Dothraki.)
And now it’s Jon’s turn to see something in her besides that cold shell. He turns to her, facing her without the tension of defensiveness in his body for the first time, and he says, simply:
“So you believe me, then, about the Night King and the army of the dead?”
But now she’s looking back over the water, where all of life’s answers lie.
“You’d better get to work, Jon Snow.”
He heads off. She turns to watch him go.
Yep, they’re gonna shag.
We’re up North, where it’s dreary. It’s busy. Sansa is showing that she’s a very effective administrator. Food, armor, etc. She has a plan and she’s good at it.
Yes! Thank god. Remember when Sansa was this…idiot? This charity case? Remember when The Queen of Thorns and Margaery had her to tea and she kept repeating how Joffrey was her king and she’d never say anything bad about him as she trembled in fear?
Look how far she’s come.
It does the heart good to see it.
Littlefinger, of course is trailing her. Makes you crazy that ten paces behind, Brienne isn’t trailing him. Yes, of course Sansa isn’t in imminent danger, but boy it would be nice to put the fear of god into that scorpion. Just to remind him that justice is only a sword-swing away…
What’s his game now, anyway?
I read an interesting theory on a board a few weeks ago where someone hypothesized that the whole thing, the whole ‘Game of Thrones’ was a battle for the souls of men and that God was Varys and the devil was Littlefinger.
It’s fun to think about.
When we did the poll I expected Aiden Gillen to come in a bit higher.
But I think at this point his chaos being a ladder feels a bit one-note. It’s been a while since we’ve seen true brilliance from Baelish, and so I think people are starting to dismiss him. We’ll soon see what he has up his sleeve, I think.
Sansa’s reaction to seeing Bran was wonderful. Sansa’s numbers pleasantly surprised me.
But she feels like she’s been getting consistently better. She’s one of the few ‘Game of Thrones’ younger leads who I feel might be able to have a decent career after this show ends. We’ll see.
That was a questionable directing choice, I thought. Even one hand would have been something. We kind of need it.
Later, in the Godswood, I saw both sides of the situation.
Bran has lost much of his humanity. He’s no longer able to relate to regular humans. And we get that shitty trope where Sansa is like explain it and he’s like:
And she’s like “I literally have all day. Weeks to listen if I need to.”
And he says, basically “Um, well the raven that was three eyed was me but wasn’t and now is.”
And she’s like “I still don’t understand.”
And he’s like “Yeah I told you it was complicated.”
YEAH BECAUSE THAT’S THE SHITTIEST EXPLANATION IN THE HISTORY OF THE AMERICAS, BRO! HOW ABOUT JUST SAYING I WAS APPRENTICED TO A VISIONARY WHO CAN SEE EVERYTHING PAST AND FUTURE AND WHEN HE DIED I TOOK HIS PLACE.
You don’t even have to say the words “eye” or “raven”. That shit is ancillary.
But then I looked at it from Bran’s perspective.
OH I’M REALLY SORRY THAT I CAN’T STOP SEEING EVERYTHING IN HUMAN EXISTENCE PAST AND PRESENT AND FUTURE LONG ENOUGH TO COMPILE MY JOB DESCRIPTION INTO A FUCKING ELMO LEVEL EMOJI THAT YOU ASSHOLES CAN UNDERSTAND. I’M THE FUCKING THREE EYED RAVEN. YOU’RE THE STEWARD OF WINTERFELL. I DON’T COME INTO YOUR SERVANT’S PANTRY AND ASK YOU WHY YOU STACK YOUR BRUNCH NAPKINS THE WAY YOU DO. SO DON’T GET PISSY AT ME WHEN I HAVE TROUBLE LEAVING THE FUCKING Q CONTINUUM TO LIST THE INGREDIENTS OF A BIG MAC. I KIND OF HAVE A LOT GOING ON. WHAT WITH SEEING ALL THINGS AT ONCE, Y’KNOW? FUCKING HAYSEED.
Sansa walks away when Bran casually mentions the evening of her wedding. He has seen what happened to her. It’s…heartbreaking. To know your little brother watched that. To know that he saw you in your weakest hour.
Archmaester Broadbent uses a stainless steel pokey thing to check Jorah. It’s remarkable. Jorah is a talking scab, basically, but he’s healed. By god, he’s actually healed.
He’s free to go, but the Archmaester wants to see little uppity shithead Samwell Tarly in his quarters later that evening, for likely expulsion and no doubt a tongue lashing to wake the gods.
The maester heads out and we get a great moment between Sam and Jorah.
There’s some chatter about where Jorah will go, and he’s all too keen to say the name of Daenerys Stormborn. His place is with her.
He says that he owes her his life. Her and Sam.
Eh, Sam says. Your father saved my life more than once. It’s the least I could do.
He offers Jorah his hand. Someone offering to touch him. It’s powerful.
Jorah takes it, and grasps it with a second hand. Emotion overcomes him and he almost cries, right then and there. His lip quivers. Sam smiles.
And Jorah looks up at the window, where the sun is shining. It’s a brand new day.
Hell of a scene.
In the Archmaester’s study, Sam admits that he treated Ser Jorah. The archmaester is pissed. Who told him to? Who taught him to? Many many much more learned and skilled men have tried to do that and failed.
“That man is alive because of you.”
Sam, he says, should be very proud.
Holy hell I love this Archmaester. Finally, a human component to him.
Rather than expel him, he tells Sam he needs a bunch of shitty old scrolls and books copied. You can almost smell the mildew through the screen.
Sam sighs. Fuuuuuuuck.
But something tells me that the Archmaester picked these scrolls for a reason. Maybe they’re everything The Citadel has on White Walkers. Something tells me they’re less punitive and more informative and transformative.
“Mind the paper mites, though.” Jim Broadbent warns. “They’re strong enough to tear your dick off.”
Khaleesi is irate. It’s time for her to ride Drogon and go burn Euron’s ships. But no one knows where they are. Her advisors counsel against it. The dragons are armored. She is not.
And now we get to a part of the show I really hated.
Last week, every person in the room, Yara, Olenna, Ellaria, everyone was instantly hushed when Tyrion suggested they capture The Rock.
This week, somehow, Varys says they know we’re coming.
Huh? Fucking huh?
Last week it was a whispered name, like saying Voldemort. So revolutionary that no one dare even say it, much less try it.
But this week? They know we’re coming.
I mean, okay. I’m shaking my head but okay.
We have Tyrion narrating the scene. It’s both shitty and clever, if that’s possible. Shitty because this is the first time, we’re led to believe, that Tyrion has explained the full plan. Clever because it walks us through the key points of the battle with a beloved character guiding us, which makes it more engaging.
But fuck me if I think the Unsullied kind of suck balls.
The long spear and shield thing? That’s phalanx shit. It irks me when it’s close quarters fighting and Grey Worm is slinging around a 14-foot long spear. I wrote about this before.
But okay, whatever.
I also hate how the Unsullied look. That quilted toilet paper underoo thing they have going? Meh. It looks like they made that armor out of furniture moving mats. Tell me I’m wrong. Look at Grey Worm’s legs and tell me that’s not the thing they use to protect grandma’s glass cupboard.
But the Lannister Army is marching on Highgarden. And Euron’s fleet is destroying Grey Worm’s ride home. Of course. Even Euron’s flagship looks like a fucking asshole. The flamboyant asshole of ships.
It’s a Rome Total War shot of the Lannister Army approaching the House Tyrell stronghold. And it’s a gorgeous shot of Olenna on her Widow’s Walk, watching the army approach.
Lady C was making fun of me during this scene because she thinks I’m a Lannister at heart. I do like their look. It’s got a lot of Lucius Vorenus to it.
A lot has happened in this episode but the thing that got my blood boiling the most was watching asshole Randyll Tarly riding behind Jaime wearing Lannister Red.
You unconscionable shit.
You self serving douchebag.
You made an oath to wear GREEN and defend the very castle you’re approaching, armed to the teeth. House Tarly is a House Tyrell Bannerman, you filthy, duplicitous scumbag.
What a disgusting man. Especially when you consider how his racist ass treated Gilly and how he talked down to Sam at the table.
Sam risked his life because it was the right thing to do.
Randyll Tarly became a fucking Quisling so that he could have more personal power. In the words of Euron Greyjoy: what a twat.
We don’t even bother with the battle. There is no battle. Highgarden falls before the Lannister fist.
Jaime heads up to the eyrie, where Olenna awaits her fate.
He is polite to her. She questions him about strategy and he tells her how they cleared out the larders at Casterly Rock and how he learned this trick from Robb Stark.
Ooof. Hurts to hear that. The Young Wolf. He was a hell of a tactician, once upon a time.
“There are always lessons in failures.” Jaime says.
“You must be very wise by now.” Jabs Olenna.
This scene is just an absolute tour de force by Diana Rigg. It’s like a masterclass in acting. And we’ll come away with a number of important takeaways: that her House is destroyed, that the Cersei team is winning, that the gold mines of Casterly Rock are indeed tapped out, and that in the words of Olenna, Joffrey was a cunt.
But maybe the most important thing here, is that she puts more doubt in Jaime’s mind about Cersei. In her final moments, she urges him to be rid of her.
“She’s a monster, you know that.”
Jaime tries to play it off. But Olenna comes back with both barrels.
“She’s a disease. I regret my role in spreading it. You will too.”
“I think we’re done here.” Says Jaime. He’s all set with hearing any more of this. It would force him to confront some things he feels but doesn’t want to admit.
The Queen of Thorns asks how he’ll do it. Jaime says that Cersei had some ideas, whipping her through the streets of King’s Landing and beheading her in front of the Red Keep. Flaying her and hanging her body from the walls of King’s Landing. But Jaime talked her out of those options.
“Will it hurt?” She asks.
“No. I made sure of that.”
She grabs the glass and chugs. Eager to be done with all the pain and the lost family and the endless misery and sorrow and losing to a monster, a disease like Cersei Lannister.
And then, with the poison inside her, she tells Jaime that she murdered his son, the king. That she took the life of Joffrey Baratheon.
She describes Joffrey’s death in detail. We all remember it and her memory is spot on.
“Not at all what I intended.” She admits. “You see: I’d never seen the poison work before.”
Jaime is dumbfounded. He’s surging with hatred. Nikolaj has done amazing face acting this season. A++.
At that point I’m absolutely certain that Jaime is going to stab her or do something violent. But he just takes it, turns heel and walks out.
And that’s the last we’ll ever see of The Queen of Thorns. On a show full of skilled actors and acting, she may very well have been the best. R.I.P. Olenna Tyrell. That’s a series wrap.
The show bids goodbye to another 10, and in the writers room, they look at each other with hollow eyes and shudder with an unseen cold. Do we have to write another Bran scene? Have mercy! Please!
What happens when Jaime starts to put two and two together? To realize that — had he believed Tyrion and made Cersei relent—
1) Tyrion would have never been accused of killing Joffrey.
2) And if Tyrion wasn’t accused, then Oberyn would have never had to be Tyrion’s champion — an event which led directly to the death of his own daughter.
3) And if then, Tyrion wouldn’t have been found guilty, Jaime wouldn’t have had to bust Tyrion out of the pokey. And then Tyrion wouldn’t have murdered Tywin.
So, because of his own lack of faith, Myrcella and Tywin got dead.
How do you think Cersei will take that news? And will it be the final straw that broke the camel’s back for the Kingslayer?
We shall see. We shall see.
We shall see how the writing staff manages yet another loss to their acting corps, and how they unshackle their top tier talent from behind second stringers and when Fire and Ice smoosh, does fire melt or ice burn? Or the other way around?
A fun episode, all in all. I liked it better the more I peeled the onion. Can’t wait for Sunday night! Thanks for taking the time to read through!
Follow Lord Castleton on Twitter
Did you know that you can make ANY shirt at The Pajiba Store? Just pick a shirt you
like and UPLOAD YOUR OWN DESIGN. We still get a bump for every shirt you make, even if
it’s not Pajiba-specific.