Welcome back to your weekly Game of Thrones Deep Dive Recap! Time does not exist in our dojo. If you haven’t lost all sense of time and space while you plummet into this nerd well, I haven’t done my job.
This week is brought to you by the Westeros Transit System, proudly serving all traffic in Westeros at the same speed until season seven, when everything changed to hyperloop and all fucking rules went out the window.
I didn’t make this cool image, (and from now on I’ll put my name at the bottom of the ones I make) but what I like most about it is The Wall up top.
As a show watcher I’ve never known what the names of all The Wall castles are. I think the only ones that we’ve really interacted with are Castle Black, obvs, Eastwatch-by-the-Sea and The Nightfort. The Nightfort is where Bran and Jojen and Meera passed through the Wall. Apparently The Nightfort is the original and largest castle on the Wall. There are 19 of them in total.
When the books begin, according to some fancy use of a tool they call Google, only Castle Black and The Shadow Tower are garrisoned.
Kind of bums me out that we never see The Shadow Tower in the show. That’s one of the more badass names of anything in Westeros. We do see the leader of The Shadow Tower, though.
Remember when Alliser Thorne was running for Lord Commander after Jeor Mormont was kilt? Before Sam nominates Jon Snoo, there are two candidates:
Ser Alliser Thorne
Ser Denys Mallister
I never knew who the hell that second guy was. But as it turns out, he was the leader of the Night’s Watch for 20 years at The Shadow Tower.
Whooooooo boy! I bet he’s seed some shit, yo!
We could ask him, but tragically, the actor who played him, J.J. Murphy, who was 86 at the time, passed away four days after his shoot. And you thought ‘Game of Thrones’ only whacked people on screen. Unofficial word from the set speculated that Bran whispered some greenseeing stuff to him about what happens to Viserion and it broke his heart.
R.I.P. J.J. Murphy.
Now his watch has ended.
There was also a mention of Greyguard on the show, but if you blinked you missed it.
So, Jon gets elected and the first thing he does is name Ser Alliser Thorne his First Ranger. It’s a bold move, Cotton. Let’s see how it plays out!
The second thing he does is command pusillanimous shitkicker and all-around-penis-membrane ‘Lord’ Janos Slynt to garrison the fort at Greyguard. Do you remember Janos Slynt? He was the dickwad who betrayed Ned.
You may remember that Ned brought the goldcloaks to the throne room with proof against Cersei. On a command from Janos Slynt, who was bribed by Littlefinger, all the Goldcloaks spear Ned’s men in the back.
Later on, when Tyrion becomes hand, he punts Slynt’s ass out of King’s Landing and into the Night’s Watch.
Janos Slynt was made a Lord by Good King Joff for basically being a traitorous shitbucket.
At the Wall, Slynt became the irritating hype man of Ser Alliser at Castle Black. When Jon came back from infiltrating the Free Folk, Slynt and Thorne were itching to kill him.
Shortly thereafter, when Jon set about taking the initiative to train his fellow Night’s Watch broothers, Ser Alliser publicly shits on him. Slynt warns Ser Alliser that Jon is very popular and eventually the old Maester will call for a Choosing.
As you’ll remember, Jon won, with the deciding vote being cast by Maester Aemon, his great-great-uncle. I will always love that. It’s a thing of eternal beauty. I rated his acting higher than most because I thought he perfectly embodied the role, especially because he was partially blind and in his nineties at the time.
I don’t know who gave him a 1, but whoever you are I challenge you to MOTHERFUCKING TRIAL BY COMBAT! You country-ass pissknuckle! I’ll end you!
Peter Vaughn passed away in December of 2016 at the ripe old age of 93.
R.I.P. Peter Vaughn.
And now his watch has ended.
(Goddamnit, Lord Castleton! I came her for the jokes, yo! What’s with all the fucking dead white people?)
Oh HO! Don’t you worry. Many many more dead to come!
And when Lord Commander Quanathon Snoo takes command, he does exactly what Tyrion did. He sends the pit viper Slynt as far away from him as possible. Or tries to.
And that’s the end of any mention of the ruin of Greyguard on the show. R.I.P. Janos Slynt. May you find more courage and integrity in the afterlife.
And now his watch has ended.
Well, Slynt anyway. The actor who played him, Dominic Carter, is alive and well, thank goodness.
It makes you think about fate, and how the very future of the world was in the hands of a pissbucket like Janos Slynt for a brief second. Because if he goes to Ned and tells him that Littlefinger is trying to bribe him, it’s a different story. If Ned puts Joff and Cersei in chains and sits on the Iron Throne himself? It’s a different story.
But we aren’t at The Shadow Tower or Grey Gardens or at the Pool when Season 7 Episode 6 opens.
We’re north of Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, where the Westerosi Seal Team 6 is reconnoitering the North, looking for a dead man to grab. We know this because the camera floats, magic carpet like, over the map table at Dragonstone, fire in the distance, until it arrives at the place where the line of mighty adventurers and a few Star Trek Red Shirts are tracing Shackleton’s journey to find the North Pole or something.
Remember our players are:
Setting aside the essential dumbness of the ‘plan’ let’s just accept that the tail seems to be wagging the dog on this one. The showrunners needed to raise the stakes and they had to figure out a way to concoct that scenario.
Most of us would have been content with some hot-ass cave lovin’ on Dragonstone. The rest of us would have puked up our lunch at the incest of it.
But if your goal is to…well, you know, have certain events take place, then you need the Lincoln Logs in place to set those events up.
So we’re in the North. Lookin’ for bonelords.
We’re walking we’re walking aaaaaaaand we’re stopping.
Right now, we’re in God’s country. The great, white North. Where men are men and…well, there are no women. Tormund says so as he hazes Gendry a bit.
“We make do.” Wink wink.
Nice to see Gendry found a team. The bottom fell out of the Gendry ‘still rowin’ memes faster than the price of eclipse glasses. I was charmed last week by his interaction with Jon, and then this week I was watching this amazing video:
And two things occurred to me.
1) Everything really is better with an English accent.
2) This whole mess of Robert’s rebellion began when John Arryn, Lord of the Eyrie, refused to hand over a young Ned Stark and his best pal Robert Baratheon to the Mad King.
How interesting. Because the parallel that seems to be set up here, with history repeating itself a bit, is that you have Ser Davos as kind of a surrogate father/guardian to the offspring of both of those men. Is he a John Arryn of sorts? We don’t know, as show watchers. All we know of Jon Arryn is this:
Blech. That’s a fucking awful look.
Then you have Tywin on the slab. Looking svelte as all getout.
Wait a moment! Is that Jaime’s extra hand he’s wearing? Even in death he’s a withholding prick.
Artistically, though, we hope this was the rock-on-the-eyes match for John Arryn, with no more vestal virgins sacrificed to appease the GRRM minotaur. I already got called out last week for crushing on Ser D too much.
The warriors haul ass northward. Trudge trudge trudge. These fuckers walk with goddamn purpose.
The writers know that with very few exceptions, a group of men always fragments into a power hierarchy. At the vanguard you have the veterans. Social status has a role to play but funny people always thrive there. Tormund is like the ideal member of this group because he’s funny and can knock your dick in the dirt. On the other end of the hierarchy, you have the Jerry Gergiches from ‘Parks and Rec’. The rookies. The low man.
The lowest men are the wildling sherpas, obviously. They don’t even get any lines. They are chum.
Just above them, though, is Gendry. Because he’s young and kind of dim and still pissed off at the Brotherhood.
You know someone is really dim when Tormund thinks their dim. That’s like chicken dim. In the words of Werner Herzog:
“Look into the eyes of a chicken and you will see real stupidity. It is a kind of bottomless stupidity, a fiendish stupidity. They are the most horrifying, cannibalistic and nightmarish creatures in the world.”
I’m not sure Gendry is quite that dim, but he’s dim enough to be the only one whinging in a cadre of men who are light years beyond complaint of any sort.
Does he have a valid reason?
Uh…yeah! I don’t think I’d be all chipper to shrug off a betrayal like BEING SOLD INTO SLAVERY either. That’s not a goddamn misdemeanor. Hello! Maybe don’t sell me to a fucking deviant witch who cowgirls my unsuspecting bone and stones, ties me down and SUCKS MY BLOOD WITH HUGE FUCKING ‘STAND BY ME’ SIZED LEECHES.
“She needed your blood.” Says Thoros.
YEAH, NO FUCKING SHIT, THOROS YOU CHICKEN-DIM MOTHERFUCKER! I WAS THERE!
For the love of the seven, don’t expect me to be all fucking hunky-dory right out of the gate! Reparations should be made! Apologies are the fucking ground floor. I don’t think me being pissed about being an indentured blood bag is fucking whinging!
All Gendry got in reparations was a sip of Thoros’ booze and a clap on the back. Good lad!
And I love the fact that the biggest dickhead bully in the group is The Hound, who is so fucking over it with everything and complains about fucking everything. But when you’re the complainee, everything is valid and not whinging.
One thing we’ve never talked about with The Hound is that Brienne gave him a compound fracture and he never limps. That’s fucking amazing. So his bones heal super well but not his skin or hair follicles. He’s an odd one. I think much of the credit has to go to Al Swearengen who must have set his leg and dressed the wound like an ER doc.
Because that boy don’t limp.
“The fuck you say about my pretty necklace?”
So the boys of winter keep trudging and apparently all ills are being put to rest. We’re like six minutes into the show and already Khaleesi’s two Northern Badasses are starting to bond.
And they don’t have to. They really don’t. Because it would have been sooooooooo fucking lame and easy to write them at odds with each other. That’s like shitpost writing 101. That one of them gives the other attitude because they like the same sophomore girl! Waahhhhhh! I’m gonna be a fucking baby about it.
THAT would be whinging.
But that’s not what happens. The writing staff chooses something a trillion times better. Two dudes, just shooting the shit. They’ve already sussed each other out and found the other to be pretty damn good. Yes, there’s the small matter of a lifelong infatuation with a rocket-hot supernova of a woman, but they’re mature enough to not make that a thing. Due to the new fast travel feature of the Game, we don’t get to see this where it truly belongs, on the deck of the ship as they both look back toward Dragonstone, but it works here well enough.
Jon really admired Jorah’s father. Jorah did too, before he broke his dad’s heart.
This one is tough for show watchers, because the worst shit we’ve seen Jorah do is betrayal of Daenerys when he was working for the Spider. So it’s easy to think of that as his crime.
What many of us don’t know is that once upon a time, Jorah Mormont was the great hope of Bear Island. Brave in battle and helping to quell a rebellion, he was knighted by Robert Baratheon. One can only imagine how proud Jeor was of his boy back then. Jorah caught the eye of a blonde beauty (sound familiar?) when he won a tournament of knights celebrating the destruction of the rebellion. He soon married the beautiful woman, named Lynesse Hightower. His father decided to join the Night’s Watch and gave him control of the family and made him Lord of Bear island.
Jorah’s wife was, apparently, used to much more finery than the humble surroundings of Bear island could provide. Jorah spent all of his money trying to keep her happy, and when he ran out of options he did what desperate men sometimes do, he started to break the law. In his case, when he caught poachers, rather than give them the King’s justice, he quietly sold them to slavers. This was a huge no-no in Westeros, and when he was outed, it became the responsibility of his banner lord, Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell, to apprehend and execute him.
Take a second, if you will, to appreciate the fact that, even if you never read a single word of the books, we can all write that scene in our minds. Ned gets word about Jorah. We can see his face — the combination of disappointment and disgust on it. But he has a job to do. We can see him immediately readying to go, the conversation with Cat about his responsibility, her face as he rides off. What an amazing world they’ve built for us where these images can take place so quickly and easily. With no more effort than it would take to create the scene in your mind if I said:
“A bantha shakes the dust from his coat as a distant sandstorm threatens to turn toward Mos Eisley.”
“Diagon Alley is packed with people. Two third year Hufflepuffs push through the throng on their way to Olivander’s.”
“The first rays of morning dance on the roof of The Last Homely House. Lord Elrond stands on the highest balcony, stone still, gazing toward the East with a look of worry on his brow.”
With meticulously built universes, the vision is simple to create.
So Ned rides for Bear Island, and rather than accept his fate and face the music, Jorah and his personal delilah hightail it to Essos where he worked as a sellsword. That vocation, though he was skilled at it, did not provide enough money to keep his bride happy. She eventually left him to join the harem of a wealthy trader, and as far as we know, she spent the rest of her life as one of his concubines.
That’s rough fucking stuff, man.
It may also partially explain how Jorah could have, initially, at least, justified the betrayal of another blonde beauty.
Jon mentions that the first time he crossed North of The Wall he was with Jorah’s father. Jorah comments that he was a good man, and deserved a better son.
Oooof. That’s tough to hear. I can’t imagine how hard it might be to say or to own.
Something that was really great was the Jon was intent to let Jorah know that they caught every mutineer and killed them. He’s looking at Jorah as he says this. That’s not something most tough guys do. They don’t care about the emotions behind a thing. Emotions are for the weak.
I love that Jon is looking at Jorah so intently.
We killed the traitors who killed your dad.
So Jorah mentions that he hated Jon’s father for coming to kill him. Jorah, who is the anti-Jaime fucking Lannister and who has actually suffered and grown and become the man he always should have been, owns that Ned Stark was in the right.
“I’m glad he didn’t catch you.” Jon says.
What a motherfucking pleasant thing to say. My god, that’s nice. You don’t get a ton of nice on Game of Thrones. That’s nice.
“Me too.” Jorah says.
I love the look they share here. It’s so genuine. Thank god they didn’t set this up with generic rom-com aggression.
Jon feels it too.
He stops and gives Jorah back his family sword, the greatest thing in the history of House Mormont.
Here, dude. This is yours.
What makes this even more powerful is that Jon knows this is a white-walker-killin’ blade. This could be a decision with mortal consequences. But that doesn’t stop him. It belongs to you.
I swoon with shit like this. And then Jorah is like — no. He doesn’t deserve it. The blocking in this scene is so good, because Jorah actually takes the sword and studies it. He has the treasure in his very hands. The shit has already been broughten.
“He gave it to you.” Jorah says.
“I’m not his son.”
I’m gonna need some oxygen over here!
Jorah unsheathes the blade a few inches, looking down at the Valyrian steel. Centuries, Jon said. It’s been in his family for centuries.
Then Jorah says how he brought shame onto his family and broke his father’s heart. He doesn’t deserve to bear the sword.
My god, that’s some honestly evolved shit. That’s not woe-is-me bullshit, that’s a man who has grown. It is the very picture of taking responsibility for your actions. In a world full of men who can’t seem to get out of their own fucking way, (yes, I’m talking about Westeros) a world full of Pollivers and Lockes and Ser Mandons and Xaro Xohan Doxoses, you have to admire Jorah. He is woke as fuck. Getting peeled in silence will do that to you I guess.
And then he hands the sword back to the man Dany was making goo goo eyes at and says:
“It’s yours. May it serve you well, and your children after you.”
The children you’ll make with the person I love most in the world.
I’m a little verklempt over here. My goodness. whooooo.
This is all Jorah sees:
…and he still gives him the sword back. My goodness.
For reasons that I think have more to do with his performance on other shows, Iain Glen is viewed by the Pajiba GOT community as about a 7.
I’d argue that he’s one of the actors with the most gravitas and on-screen presence. Just good, old fashioned presence. You can’t teach presence, and it’s what really made this scene pop.
It’s also what likely caused him to be knighted by the Queen herself. Bravo, Sir Iain Glen!
Okay, so he wasn’t knighted by the Queen, but come on! Bob Hope was and he was a filthy rebel. Surely handing over Longclaw will cause both the 7-givers and the Queen herself to consider swapping that Ser for a Sir.
Okay! We are like nine minutes and change into the episode. This is gonna be a fucking doozy.
The soundtrack for the boys up North could be any fun-loving summer medley. Maybe it’s Marky Mark’s ‘Good Vibrations’. Everyone is just palling around and having a grand old time and then there’s a fucking needle scratch and we’re in Winterfell.
Arya tells a great story about how she broached gender roles in front of her father, not knowing he was there, and he applauded for her despite the transgression.
He knew that her desire to shoot shit with arrows wasn’t wrong: the rules were wrong.
I’m not sure what we can infer from this, or what current rules are wrong in their situation, but it’s not Arya’s fault that she doesn’t know that Daenerys is coming to BREAK THE FUCKIN’ WHEEL! Whoooooo hooooooo! Fuck wheels! Wheels are for dickheads!
So Arya is like yeah this is where dad gave me a great memory and then you and the fucking Lannisters killed him.
Sansa is like HUH? What was that last part?
It’s so disturbing that neither girl has figured out that they’re being Baelished here.
When Sansa and Jon reunited, you’ll remember, they shared some bowls of soup, and we had the sense that they had cleared the air. That’s important.
So CAN WE GET A MOTHERFUCKING BOWL OF LENTIL SOUP UP IN THIS FUCKING MAMMA JAMMA?
These girls need to talk. They need to go step by step and Ser Jorah their mistakes and not posture and not pretend and certainly not threaten.
Neither of the girls are leaning into the boat. Sansa seems to try to from time to time, like last week when she’s like “don’t do that…are you angry with me?” But with Arya? I can’t figure it out. Elvis has left both the boat and the building.
Lady C and I had an hour and a half long conversation about this scene after the episode on Sunday night. I’ve always been more Team Arya than Team Sansa, probably because I dig swords more than pretty dresses.
Lady C is team Stark. House Stark. House Stark to the death. When I did that article about what your ideal Game of Thrones endgame was, the Stark Family Reunion came from Lady C. That’s what she’s holding out for.
So the current state of affairs pisses her off.
Partially because it feels structurally wrong, partially because it’s one of those super-lame-ass plot choices that could be avoided with a basic conversation, and partly because it’s very clear that the writing staff struggles with writing women.
Because on the one hand you have Arya talking about dear old Dad and how fucking wonderful he was, but she never stops to think how he’d feel if he was on that rampart now, listening to her talk to and later threaten her own sister. My guess is he’d cuff her so hard he’d knock her into next week. But she’s not connecting the dots.
As Lady C and I considered all of this, we started digging into our positions a bit. She ended up kind of the house attorney for Team Sansa and I was batting cleanup for Team Arya.
And a one and a two and it went a little something like thisssss….
Team Sansa: Sansa isn’t perfect, but she’s endured and life has taught her that she has to absolutely be her own savior. The number one lesson she’s ever known is that no one else can or will protect her. So yes, she doesn’t bark fire at the Lords questioning Jon, but she has to play the long game, and the long game requires planning and discipline and patience.
Team Arya: Arya absolutely embodies the Stark creed regarding family. She could be the literal figurehead adorning the Stark ship of state. A wolf, through and through. And she has to be vigilant for enemies foreign and domestic. So when a sister who betrayed her personally now can’t hit a basic layup like squashing an upstart Lord who publicly questions your brother? Then there’s something rotten in Denmark. This wouldn’t be a Defcon 1 issue had she not already personally been betrayed by Sansa, be holding evidence of either a second betrayal or at least a spineless capitulation, and witnessed what she considers to be a version of betrayal in plain sight at the moot.
Team Sansa: Yes, but the way Arya is going about it, calling her out for childhood weaknesses and proclivities is asinine and childish.
Team Arya: True, Arya could be handling it better, but like Jaqen, she seems to have lost all ability to wallow in bullshit. We’re lucky she’s even using names in stead of telling Sansa that “a girl is playing with fire.”
Team Sansa: But you have to admit that Sansa has grown up, and she was doing amazingly well managing Winterfell before Arya and her murderin’ ways shows up!
Team Arya: How would Arya know this? That Sansa has changed? What big tell can Arya see that shows that the dim, social butterfly whose greatest personality trait was her appearance has finally evolved into something else? She actually, with her own eyes, witnesses Sansa not really defend their brother and then she sees that Sansa has made herself the queen of the castle by living in their parents’ chambers. If Sansa was like, I’m good in any old broom closet, then we have a little doubt in Arya’s mind. But she comes home and she sees the same old Sansa. Still playing the queen bee, still dressed to the nines, still shitting on the bastard they grew up with, even though he’s the King of the fucking North. And still, in her heart, thinking she’s better than the rest of them. From Arya’s point of view, enough is fucking enough! Fool me once your fault. Fool me twice? My fault. It’s like that speech about Trump that Barack gave in October 2016: “You want to know what somebody’s going to do, look what they’ve been doing their whole lives.”
Team Sansa: While all of that is either true, true from Arya’s perception or nearly true, it still doesn’t excuse Arya from having to act like an actual grownup. She’s not excused from basic human decency because she’s trained to be an assassin. She still has to respect her sister, if for no other reason than that’s what her parents would want and expect of her.
Team Arya: Maybe so. Maybe Captain America should just put down his shield and try to reason with the bad guys. Let’s just keep in mind that there are four Stark children who have cheated death to this point and three of them are fucking legends. Legends. They have earned the kind of titles that get you into history books. We all know the laundry list of Jon’s accomplishments and titles. Bran is the — not one of — THE three eyed raven, a creature so powerful he literally knows everything. And Arya has become a Faceless Man, or woman. I never know how to type that. She is in, or close to, anyway, a legendary community of face changing super assassins. In the time when her three siblings were becoming legends, how did Sansa distinguish herself so that her role as Lady of Winterfell is above questioning? Even Tyrion, who was loathed by his family, managed the fucking sewers. Name a single accomplishment in Sansa’s life of any note.
Team Sansa: How about enduring? How about surviving as a traded brood mare? Valued only for her name and what she might grow in her womb?
Team Arya: She certainly deserves credit for that, but some might say that’s the same horrific legacy Daenerys was chained to before she rose to become the most powerful person in the Known World.
Team Sansa: But it’s not impressive on the level of Assassin’s Creed or King of the North or Greenseer. So she should shut the fuck up?
Team Arya: No! That’s the exact point. Even knowing all this, even having been shit on his whole youth by Sansa, Jon still elevated her and put his faith in her. No one expects her to be a greenseer or a fighter. They just want her to be a Stark. Just be a Stark. For once. If Sansa had ripped those uppity Lords a new asshole and gone back to their parents quarters, Arya wouldn’t have given it a second thought. It’s that it all feels like the same thing. It feels like same old Sansa, and maybe that’s why Arya feels rooted in childish put-downs. Because Adult Sansa is just Young Sansa but bigger and with more fur and bangles.
Team Sansa: I think it’s dangerous to decide what a Stark is and isn’t. Inside of any family, people need to have the flexibility to find their own way and still be considered a member of the clan without the possibility that doing so will cost them their actual face. I mean, Arya is flipping a dagger in that later scene! What the hell?
Team Arya: I think that’s all well and good for most issues like “You like Van Halen but I like Belle and Sebastian” or “Everyone in the family always becomes a cop but Sansa decided to write children’s books and become a music therapist.” That’s where every Stark can just hold hands and sing Kumbaya. But that designation of black sheep or boatrocker goes out the window when one Stark is either working against the Starks or being the tool of those who would.
Team Sansa: Who is Sansa working against?
Team Arya: Um…Jon?
Team Sansa: See you say she’s working against Jon but I say she’s just working for herself. Because she has to now. Because all the years that she didn’t carved themselves into her like a tattoo. She does because she must. You can’t sit there and tell me that she has anything but love for Jon in her heart these days.
Team Arya: No I think that’s mostly true. But there is some resentment there as well. And also, I root for Sansa. I want her to be great. I want her to rise to her station and be everything she always dreamed she could be and more. This shouldn’t have to be a choice between Arya and Sansa. This should be where the Starks come together and grow.
Team Sansa: It’s tough to do that with a knife in your face.
Team Arya: Old habits die hard. She’s been fight or flight since the Baelor episode in season one. Those are hard shackles to just shrug off, especially when you see…something concerning.
Team Sansa: She’s a psycho. Good. Glad we agree on that!
Team Arya: Whoa! I never said that. Now we’ve devolved to name calling?
Team Sansa: That’s not a name, it’s a diagnosis.
Team Arya: I’d like the record to show that I haven’t said a bad word about Sansa this whole conversation.
Team Sansa: No, you’ve just been like “Arya Bran and Jon should wear capes and Sansa should do the laundry because she’s not a superhero.” It’s okay. We smallfolk will muddle through…
Team Arya: Sansa Stark is not smallfolk!
Team Sansa: But I am? Is that what you’re saying?
Team Arya: I feel like this has veered toward a place I’m not coming back from. Go Team Stark!!?
Team Sansa: Spoken like a true Lannister.
Team Arya: I’m not a goddamn Lannister! I just like Tywin’s ability to shape policy and his rational outlook. And will to enact change. I also like well equipped soldiers and for the trains to run on time and a general sense of order in the universe.
Team Sansa: Pfff. Imperialist scum.
Team Arya: I want you to know that no matter how much you beat me in private, I fully intend to make it look like I won in the deep dive.
Team Sansa: Of course! Write like a Lannister, too! AND WHO ARE YOU THE PROUD LORD SAID, THAT I SHOULD BOW SO LOW?
Team Arya: Please don’t sing yell the Rains of Castamere at me. I can only be so aroused.
Team Sansa: Ha!
Team Arya: Can we just agree that we’ve probably put more thought into this dynamic than the writers did, and maybe since this is our favorite show, give them the credit they deserve for getting us this far? Maybe they’re setting up a huge bombshell.
Team Sansa: Friday Night Lights is my favorite show.
Team Arya: Okay.
Team Sansa: Coach T. Tammy Taylor. “Aww, come on, y’all!”
Team Arya: I stand corrected. It’s my favorite show. And maybe they didn’t quite pull it off, but isn’t there something beautiful about the idea of one sister holding another sister to a higher moral trajectory?
Team Sansa: By stabbing her in the face? And talking in metaphors? Remember when we were at that launch party last year and that Swiss investment banker was talking in allegories and answering questions with questions and you said, and I quote “let’s not go back to the side of the room where Metaphor Dan is holding court.”
Team Arya: I don’t remember that at all.
Team Sansa: That’s why I remember for both of us. His name was Klaus, by the way. Klaus. And you nicknamed him “Metaphor Dan.” You don’t like people who speak in metaphors like Arya was. It’s self-indulgent and creepy. It’s like “be part of the pastiche of my language.”
Team Arya: Now I remember that guy. He was amazing. I should have given him my number so he could text me metaphors.
Team Sansa: Wow.
Team Arya: But what I’m saying is this: Arya knew that the letter Sansa wrote wouldn’t damn her with Ned and didn’t damn her with Robb and wouldn’t ultimately damn her with Jon. Why? Because in a paternalistic society, men would never expect a witto girl to hold up under those conditions. It’s dismissive. Granted they don’t know that, but it is. It presupposes that women don’t have the courage or fighting spirit that a man would have under the same conditions. That’s why mentioning Lady Mormont was perfect. Because there’s no flies on her.
Team Sansa: Eight minutes ago Arya didn’t know that Jon was King of the North. How does she know about Lady Mormont? She’s the only Northern Lord or Lady not hanging around the moot hall for free chicken. How does Arya even know her?
Team Arya: Now I’m getting distracted. I’m just saying that letting a girl off the hook for being a girl is a very male thing to do.
Team Sansa: Agree.
Team Arya: And holding another woman, sister or not, to a higher standard, is kind of an important and powerful thing. It’s like the prime feminine. Transcendent feminine evolution.
Team Sansa: Yes, as long as you’re not using prime masculine behavior like physical threat and power tripping to hammer that point home.
Team Arya: I see.
Team Sansa: Yep.
Team Arya: But can we just agree that this stupid fight is kind of stupid? And maybe this is the writers version of not knowing what to do with the B or C plot when the A plot is so big and important and features lots of dudes? Maybe this is just the slowness of the walkers or Dany stranded in Essos for no fucking reason.
Team Sansa: Team Sansa can stipulate.
Team Arya: Whew. Okay. Good. You wanna get in the cah and make out behind the Seven Eleven for a while?
Team Sansa: Sorry, I don’t ride in cars with Lannisters.
One more note on this scene:
There was a beat, a thing, a piece of writing that was entirely lost. It was a slice of make-westeros-great-again writing designed to identify a villain in the scene, but that writing was lost like the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here’s how it went.
Arya accuses Sansa of selling out her family for her beloved Good King Joff and Sansa clocks her for a minute and then a typhoon of loss and resentment and anger rises inside of her and gets a certain look on her face and she says this:
Under normal circumstances, that speech ends with a rumble of thunder and Arya steps back.
And then the scene is over.
Because that’s a lot to process right there.
First of all, that’s a bad guy speech, plain and simple. That’s the type of speech that has made Cersei Lannister a household name.
But for some reason it didn’t land that way on Sunday night, why? For a number of reasons.
1) First and foremost, Sophie Turner didn’t hit it, and director Alan Taylor didn’t get her where she needed to be to sell this.
We’re not accustomed to thinking of Sansa this way. We’re certainly not predisposed to thinking that Jon Snoo LOST The Battle of the Bastards. We did see him in the crush and we saw that reverse Mhysa imagery and we did see that without intervention the battle was lost. And then we saw the Vale Knights ride in. Knights that Sansa never told Jon about. We remember Sansa on her horse, seated next to a mounted Littlefinger. How might Arya have interpreted that particular postcard? Then we see the tide turn and Jon, Tormund and Wun Wun rush toward Winterfell and a fleeing Ramsay.
Then we watched as Wun Wun crash the gate and the shield v bow duel between Jon and Ramsay and we saw Jon rush him and beat him and then hold back, knowing that his sister had been wronged more, even than him.
But what we haven’t seen, until this point, is the level of resentment Sansa has toward Jon. We’ve talked about this before, but this is as plain as the nose on your face.
She won Winterfell. Not Jon, and therefore the titles and accolades and all the power of the North rightly belong to her and her alone.
She’s in the rulers quarters because, goddamn it, she belongs there.
2) Once Sophie Turner wasn’t able to evoke the amount of bile and wretchedness and anger this speech demanded, director Alan Taylor buried it. He didn’t punch it out. He didn’t edit it in a way that made it notable. He rolled the next question into the speech:
And where were you? Traveling?
And then Arya quickly responds: I was training.
And seconds after that, Sansa looks worried and asks Arya what she’s going to do with the note. And the lasting image we get from that isn’t that Sansa has a stake and is fucking pissed off at the way everything has shaken out. The lasting image is that Arya is a psycho. Because she actually rose to the level the writing demanded. To counter Sansa’s big reveal as the Cersei of the North, they asked Arya to be that single-minded and vicious.
And when one performance didn’t quite lean into the boat enough, the other was left holding the bag, and looking a bit ridiculous.
With that, we’re back up in the frozen tundra. We were absolutely spoiled to death in this episode by both the cinematography and the score. Did you know that Ramin Djawadi hasn’t won an emmy for his score yet? That seems criminal.
The other thing that seems criminal is that with all of his copious talent, he also happens to be fucking adorbs.
I knew nothing about him before Game of Thrones and for some reason I expected him to be ancient and wizened and withered and look like a sensei from Kung Fu Panda.
But no! He’s like my age, handsome as the day is long, and talented as fuuuuuuuuck.
On second thought, FUCK RAMIN DJAWADI. Goddamn it. Here’s a great piece in VF I read about him.
So anyway we’re back up north, our champions are swarming to the dead like ants on a dirty bun. No hats anywhere. As a true man of the North I can tell you that real cold gets you in two places: your ears and your neck. These dudes are fucking nuts. But they don’t have hats on for one reason: because no one watches hockey.
And a big reason why no one watches hockey because you can’t see the player’s faces. Because they have hats on. And that prevents the audience from connecting with them.
So the Hound goes to fix his boot covering and a smiling ginger approaches him.
“You’re the one they call The Dog!”
OHOHOHOKAY THEN! GREAT CHATTING WITH YOU! SHEESH!
But that’s not going to deter Tormund of House Giantsbane!
“They told me you were mean.”
TORMUND: Hey, guys I’m gonna go talk to that big fuck over there. What’s his name again?
BERIC: The Hound. Don’t bother, he’s mean as shit.
THOROS: Mean mean mean. Mean as any man you’ll ever meet. Mean to the bone.
TORMUND: Huh. He’s that mean?
“Were you born mean or you just hate Wildlings?”
“I don’t give two shits about wildlings. It’s Gingers I hate!”
“Gingers are byoooooootiful. We are kissed by fire. Just like you.”
“Don’t point your fucking finger at me.”
And the hound actually hits Tormunds arm to knock his finger out of his face. That could be grounds for a blood duel right there. The Hound stomps off and this is the face Tormund makes.
Hahaha! Goddamn he’s a fucking treat. He follows The Hound.
Now, let’s keep one thing in mind, The Hound has no friends. He’s never been anything but a disgusting, burnt animal. He looks hideous and he’s a grotesque landmass of a person and the only notoriety he’s ever received is for carving fools up.
He’s never had a friend.
Because no one has ever actually liked him before.
Yes, while he and Arya spent time together, she did come to…what? Not necessarily like him, or admire him, but maybe to pity him and understand him. She took him off her list for a reason but they were never truly friends.
But Tormund Giantsbane LIKES him. Right off the bat. Tormund is like “let’s be pals!” and The Hound has zero experience with that. In his whole life, he’s never had someone just want to be his bud.
The Hound keeps telling him to fuck off but he won’t. The Hound even suggests that Tormund wants to suck his dick.
“Ah, Dick. I like it.”
“I’ll bet you do.”
You’ll remember that the last person who had the temerity to suggest that Tormund the Giantsbane wanted to suck dick was the Lord of Bones, and Tormund promptly seized the Lord of Bones own staff and beat him to death with it on the spot.
But that’s not what this is. Tormund is absolutely not getting triggered. He’s just chatting away. He’s a talker, and talkers make The Hound thirsty. Usually.
Nope, Tormund says, he has a beauty waiting for him at Winterfell. Yellow hair, blue eyes. Tallest woman you’ve ever seen — almost as tall as you!
The Hound stops. He knows this woman. She kicked his ass nine ways to Sunday. The only person to ever do so.
“Brienne of Tarth.”
“You know her?”
“Well, not with her, yet…but I see the way she looks at me.”
“How does she look at you, like she wants to carve you up and eat your liver?”
Wow this scene is nearly too much. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, Rory McCann is a fucking superstar on this show, and every scene he’s in is unreal. He’s note perfect.
The walk on, and subtly, somehow, The Hound doesn’t seem so irritated by Tormund’s presence anymore.
“How did a mad fucker like you live this long?”
“I’m good at killing people.”
Now we move to Beric and Jon. Beric’s velvety voice makes me want to pour myself a glass of courvoisier and don a smoking jacket. He’s commenting on how Jon doesn’t look like his father. Beric supposes he favors his mother.
Oh hi, yeah, right, thanks for reminding me that I’m a bastard who has no idea who his mum is. Danka.
“You knew him?”
Beric says yes, of course, when he was Hand, Ned sent Beric to go hunt Gregor Clegane. Brother of the Dick Cock of the North, trudging nine paces in front of him.
But then we see Beric’s real intent. Jon’s mad fucker wildling friend who loves to gossip and pass notes in chemistry class told Beric that the Red Woman brought Jon back. Thoros has brought Beric back six times. They both serve the same Lord.
“I serve the North.”
Yeah! Whoop whoop! This is the kind of grim, no bullshit line that makes people like me love Jon Snoo and other people think he’s fucking boring as cardboard. It’s okay. To each their own.
Beric goes on to tell him that a soldier needs to know what he’s fighting for. He fights for life. Like the Fifth Element. His voice alone could be an element on the periodic table. Smoothium.
But the point is that for some reason that they’re not likely to understand, the Red God wants them alive. Beric suggests that it’s to protect those who can’t protect themselves.
Jon recites a key line from his Night’s Watch oath:
“I am the shield that guards the realms of men.”
“Maybe we don’t need to understand any more than that. Maybe that’s enough.”
“Aye.” Jon agrees. “Maybe that’s enough.”
Side note: Too bad saying aye makes you look like a wannabe pirate. It’s a cool word. Much cooler than yes.
Okay, and did you want to make that a combo meal?
Fountain drink okay with that?
Okay great, and will that be for here?
Okay then, that’s $11.84. Credit?
Your order will be right up. Anything else I can get you?
Okay then have a good day.
In the distance, The Hound sees a mountain like an arrowheard. They’re getting close.
“Do you know what I like about you?” Dany asks Tyrion as they sit and stand, respectively, by a warm fire. “You’re not a hero.”
YOU KNOW WHAT’S AWESOME ABOUT YOU, DAWG? YOUR COWARDICE!
That’s a hell of a way to open.
“And I love how your flatulence after a broccoli robb salad just seems to fill the entire room!” Tyrion replies.
Let’s just damn each other with feint praise until we can get back to the A plot.
And let’s also take a second to appreciate that Daenerys is no longer just frittering about on the wrong side of the narrow sea. Now she’s frittering about on the CORRECT side of it.
DAENERYS: What I mean to say is heroes like Drogo, Jorah and Daario…even this…this…what’s his name again…(snap snap) oh yes, this… “Jonathan Sneaux,” they all try to get themselves killed all the time. So fuck them.
TYRION: And every one of them is in love with you.
DAENERYS: Jon Snoo isn’t in love with me.
TYRION: Right, that’s why he stares at you. Because he wants a military alliance.
DAENERYS: He’s too little for me.
TYRION: Um…damn, lady!
DAENERYS: No, I don’t mean that! Not height! I’m cool with shripmy little men. Oh god!
TYRION: Really, it’s okay. We don’t have to-
DAENERYS: I just meant that-
TYRION: It’s fine-
DAENERYS: When someone is small, chances are they don’t have a Khal Drogo in their lunchbox, if you know what I mean.
TYRION: We really don’t have to-
DAENERYS: You get used to a certain fit and Jon Snoo is my height.
TYRION: Oh god this is awful.
DAENERYS: And Daario was fine, you know, as things go, but I figured when I got to Westeros, I’d pair up with a giant man, who could deliver the goods, you know? Not some little hamster. I could just marry you then, couldn’t I? What’s the difference? Eight or nine millimeters?
TYRION: Please can we go back to how I’m not a hero? Please?
The conversation turns to the upcoming meeting with Cersei. If all goes well, Dany will meet her and she’ll likely have traps laid for them. Are we setting any traps, she asks her Hand. He says that if she wants to truly create a better world, using deceit and mass murder isn’t the ideal way to start. But Dany wants to know what wars were won without those things.
YOU SHOULD BE SETTING TRAPS, HOSS.
That’s her stance.
But Tyrion assures her that Jaime has promised to keep the Lanniser forces in line as long as Tyrion agrees to stop Dany from doing anything…impulsive.
You lose your temper, from time to time. Tyrion says, gently.
LIKE FUCKING WHEN? Demands the person who doesn’t.
Like when you crisped the Tarlys? Tyrion offers.
“That wasn’t impulsive, that was necessary!”
Well we didn’t get to talk about the various options because you fucking blazed away, didn’t you, Annie Oakley?
This is an example of that shaded-too-angry writing that the staff sometimes saddles Dany with. They’re just having a nice chat by the fire and then she starts to shit all over her Hand and suggest that he’s taking his family’s side.
“I am taking their side!” He admits. A good strategist looks at all sides.
There’s something about this map room that makes people crazy. This is the room where Stannis almost sentences Davos to be burned alive. He fucked Melisandre against that very table. This room is nuts. And when Tyrion has the chutzpah to ask Dany about her line of succession, she is vicious toward him, like an animal at bay.
But really, how are things in Essos? When Dany broke the wheel there, outside of renaming Slaver’s Bay, what foundational structure did she lay down for the long haul? Leaving Daario and the Second Sons in charge? Is that the way to really enact long term change?
Dany then accuses him of talking about her death with his family, which is insulting beyond words. Tyrion points out that she says she cannot have children.
“I’m just trying to serve you by planning for the long term.” Tyrion says.
“Perhaps if you planned for the short term, we wouldn’t have lost Dorne and Highgarden.”
Dany walks past Tyrion with a look of resentment and disgust. She says they’ll only discuss the succession after she wears the crown.
No idea where all this misplaced rage toward Tyrion comes from. Hopefully Dany will get a wake up call that will help her get past all this nonsense!
IN THE NORTH
The weather has turned fucking horrible. It’s a near-whiteout, like the cabinet. And in the distance, they see a bear.
But remember back at Hardhome when there was nothing left to hunt and everyone was starving? How is there a bear in the-
AAAAAAGHHHHHHH! ZOMBIE BEAR!
It’s kind of amazing how that turns into something truly terrifying.
The bear turns to see them and it has blue eyes. “Do bears have blue eyes?” asks Gendry, who has never seen snow or bears before.
The zombie bear runs at them and fucking WASTES the sentry out front.
R.I.P. Nameless Wildling stationed at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.
— You did the impossible and survived Stannis’ double-pincer charge while in Mance’s army.
— You made the right choice to board ships at Hardhome and boarded them early, before the real fracas started.
— You stood with Lord Commander Snoo, looking up at the First Ranger Alliser Thorne standing high above you on the bloody Wall, 700 feet above, wondering if he was going to open that gate. And you remember how you felt when it opened. The dawn of a new era.
— Minutes later, you experienced the fear and hatred as you passed through the tunnel and into Castle Black for the first time.
— You tried to settle in to your new home in The Gift, where the smell of pigshit seemed to be ubiquitous, and you missed your family.
— You were there when Dolorous Edd came running in, every spear and sword in the Gift pointed at his throat and he told the Free Folk that they had killed Jon Snow.
— You followed the roar from Tormund and the thunderous stomp of Wun Wun’s massive feet as they jogged back north to Castle Black.
— You stood there, feeling immense pride as Jon Snow rose from the dead and walked through the crowd.
— You lined up at the Battle of the Bastards and ran with every fiber of your being to save your commander, standing over the body of his dead brother in a no man’s land kill box.
— You barely escaped the Bolton Arrows and the Umber spears. You cracked two ribs in that crush. All your living friends from your clan lost their lives in that mad scrum.
— You answered the call when Tormund told you to basically be the Night’s Watch. You accompanied him to this Crow castle. You walked the Crow wall and ate at Crow tables and slept in Crow beds.
— You took point when he told you to take point, on a mission that he warned was pretty much suicide.
— But you never wavered. And yes, you did turn to run when that enormous zombie bear was charging you, but what are we even talking about here? A zombie bear!
— And that’s where you died.
Rest easy, now, proud member of the Free Folk and nameless member of the impromptu Night’s Watch.
Now your watch has ended.
Jon gets Longclaw up into ready position, just like when Ramsay’s cavalry was riding at him and I’m bouncing in my seat. Now the shit is ON!
There are some more amazing shots in this scene.
The group backs into a circle, not knowing where the zombie bear is coming from and we get an amazing crane shot. Then we track around the circle, face after face, ready for battle, searching the opaque snowout in front of them.
The zombie bear breaks the British square like the Zulus and everyone turns to react. In one of the cooler shots you’ll ever see, both Thoros and Beric light their swords.
It’s a mad fiasco of misery. No one can seem to get a real shot on the bear until Jorah walks up and casually pokes him with an obsidian dagger that snuffs him out. It’s the biggest thing killed with the smallest thing, with the exception of the time Areo Hotah was killed with an exacto knife.
But Thoros took the brunt of it, Revenant style. Beric uses his sword to cauterize the wound, like in Rambo 3, and we’re back on track.
So the Night’s King has undead giants and undead animals. I’d love to see some undead moose and blue eyed frogs and shit in the final battle. Rabbits. Snakes. Pigeons. All with blue eyes.
And there’s no Borg-like collective connecting the animals to the Night’s King? Like that zombie bear wasn’t a scout, right? So what’s he doing out there, away from everyone else? No idea.
But we see that Thoros saved The Hound’s life. Like the Battle of Blackwater, The Hound can’t handle things that are on fire. It’s shocking he beat Beric way back when, considering that Dondarrion had a flaming sword.
It’s something that we’ll watch for in later episodes, as The Hound approaches his doom.
In either a brilliant move or a moronic one, Sansa confides in Littlefinger.
In that conversation, Sansa admits that she doesn’t know what Arya is going to do.
“I don’t know her anymore” she admits.
Or maybe she just never did, really. You go back and rewatch the old episodes and you’ll be hard pressed to find a single moment between them where Sansa seemed to get Arya at all. Or vice versa.
“Perhaps Lady Brienne could help?” Littlefinger offers.
Now Sansa has either been flummoxed or has cleverly figured out the key component of Littlefinger’s plan.
Were one of the girls planning on harming the other, Lady Brienne would be honor bound to intercede.
Sansa thinks on that.
IN THE NORTH
Remember the rebellion that Jorah helped put down in his younger years? Well, Thoros was there as well, and Jorah has had a fanboy crush on him ever since he saw Thoros be the first to fearlessly lead the charge through the breach in the enemy’s defenses.
Turns out Thoros was drunk. Blackout drunk. He doesn’t remember any of it.
Tormund pauses. He hears something.
He and Jon crawl to the crest of a hill and peer over it to see a line of clankers being led by a solitary White Walker.
Before we gank these guys, should we like, check over other hills and shit?
Okay then! Ready Chums? Leeeeeroy Jennnnnnnkins!
They surprise the small crew of undead and when Jon shatters the White Walker, all the draugrs around him fall dead. Except for one.
This is what they came for! There she is! Miss America!
Let’s bag ‘em and tag ‘em boys! This shit was almost too easy- wait what’s that sound?
The wight screams for help.
Sandor tries to cover his mouth, but the wight’s face skin tears off.
UGH…FUCKING EWWWWWW. BARF BARF BARF.
That’s so nasty. I’m sure that’s nothing for all of you Walking Dead watchers, but for people like me who avoid this type of thing? Fucking nasty.
But the damage is done. The dead are alerted.
Jon makes a split second decision. He tells Gendry to run for it. He’s the fastest one there, thanks to the timed 40’s they did back at Eastwatch before they headed out.
Gendry heads off in one direction and the gang in another. They’re moving fast when they realize they’re on a sheet of ice. But too late to do anything about it. It’s move or die.
They make it to a small outcropping of rock in the middle of a lake and the dead surge in through the ravine and surround them. One more wildling is killed. The stumbler. It’s always the stumbler. He was also, conveniently, the only one with a bow.
As the dead move closer, the ice breaks and several ranks of the dead fall through the ice.
Now, if you remember at Hardhome, there was a cliff overlooking the Free Folk city. The Night’s King sent hundreds of zombies over the edge and they smashed onto the ground below into a big pile.
And then they got up.
Because they’re dead.
Why then, wouldn’t the same logic apply here? The dead could just sink under the water and keep walking on the bottom of the lake. Or just pile up so much that other dead could walk over them.
The answer seems to be that The Night’s King doesn’t want them to.
Why also then, when the men are sitting ducks in the middle of the lake, doesn’t the Night’s King just huck shit at them until they’re all dead?
Again, because he doesn’t seem to want to.
Meanwhile, Gendry hasn’t stopped running. Shades of Sir Walter Scott here. My dad used to recite parts of Lady of the Lake to me when I was young, and running Gendry reminded me of the character Malise, a runner chosen for his fleetness of foot, sent on a near impossible run:
Eventually Gendry collapses into the snow, and all hope is lost.
But we get a sound cue.
A gate opening. By god, he made it. He made it!
Davos, of course, rushes out to save him. He’s probably bee sitting up top every second since they left, biting his nails down to the nub.
“We need to send a raven!”
And rather than Davos going…what? WHY? He’s just Davos.
“Get the Maester, now!”
Huh! So, not to be a stickler here, but Castle Black doesn’t have a maester in residence but the Wildling-run Eastwatch-by-the-reclining-Gendry does?
OHOHOHOHOHOKAY SAILOR! WHATEVER YOU SAY!
But fine. They summon the maester, and knowing what we know about maesters, I’m guessing he was like “wait, I have to go OUTSIDE?”
We don’t know what happens at that point, only that Gendry made it.
With that we’re back at The Rock. All the dudes are sleeping.
The Hound wakes up and kicks the captured wight in the ribs. All of the other wights in the circle react to that. Diehard fans stick together.
Beric tries to rouse Thoros, but he’s passed in the night.
The Hound, a man with not a kind word for anyone, ever, kneels next to the body of the man who took a bear in the grill for him.
“They say it’s one of the better ways to go.” He says to Beric.
And he’d know. He keeps a running tally of the deaths he’s witnessed.
Given the choice, he’d take freezing to death. Or death by lommy, possibly, if he knew what one was.
The Hound then steals the rest of Thoros’ wine and tries to get drunk as fast as possible. The King in the North snags the wineskin out of his hands and glares at him like a middle school principal.
“We have to burn his body.”
Well! Somebody’s got a case of the Mondays!
Jon pours the alcohol on the Fire Priest’s icy corpse and Tormund is like “too bad we got no fire, dumbasses!”
Then Beric lights his sword and chicken fries his best friend.
Gee whillikers, Tormund thinks, it would have been pretty cool for you to fire that mobile heat lamp up at ANY TIME LAST NIGHT WHILE MY SCROTUM TURNED TO ADAMANTIUM IN THAT COLD.
But he doesn’t say anything. He’s not a whinger.
Jorah and Jon have a little meeting on The Rock. This show loves rocks. First it was Casterly Rock and then the rock where Dany burned the Tarly’s and now it’s Lake Rock.
They’re all going to freeze soon. Jon says Dany is their only hope. Beric says we can kill him and point to the Night’s King, high up on tier three of the slaughter amphitheatre in the round.
Look at him up there. That number-crunchin’ bastard. How’s my 401K doing you dorky-lookin’ fuck? I know I ruined the Night’s King for some of you and I’m sorry about that. This dork is such a massive dork, though. But he’s great at mutual funds.
Let me go back to my point last week of missing my boy Anguy, the best archer in the realm. With one of Jon Snoo’s patented Dragonglass arrowheads, Anguy could shatter the Night’s King from 400 yards and we’d all be home for Yahtzee before supper.
They don’t respect the fine art of fletching on Game of Thrones.
Yeah, you read that right. Look it up you sick bastards.
Jon stares up at the Night King’s Accountant. The Night King’s Accountant stares down at Jon Snoo.
Look at our cool white thpears! FEAR UTHHHH! Snort snort.
This is eerie, thinks Jon Snoo. He could already have us. What is captain Uberdork of the mobile laptop repair unit waiting for?
Maester Wolkan, who we know worked for the Boltons and lied about Roose’s death and then did Littlefinger’s bidding, hands Sansa a raven’s message. It’s from King’s Landing. Cersei is like YO! PARTY IN THE CITAY!
Of course Sansa is too smart to go back to Cersei’s web willingly. So, in what is either a selfless move to take Littlefinger’s chess piece off the board even though it puts her in personal danger, OR an idiotic move to get rid of Brienne before she can protect Arya from whatever Sansa is planning, Sansa sends Brienne in her stead.
I’m really hoping this is her seeing Baelish’s game. Because after what she’s been through? Why would you ever send away the one person both sworn to protect you and with the ability to do so?
In the same way that Daenerys’ anger toward Tyrion felt incongruent, now Lady Sansa gets short with Brienne when the latter suggests that it’s not safe with Littlefinger, and perhaps she could at least leave Podrick behind.
“I’m the Lady of Winterfell!” She announces, and dismisses Brienne curtly.
It reminds me of a quote from ‘Enemy of the State’ when Gene Hackman’s Brill says to Will Smith’s Robert “You’re either incredibly smart or incredibly stupid.”
I have no idea at this point which one applies to Sansa.
We’re close on the face of a dragon as Dany comes out of the main runway wearing the most badass Polar Zebra pelt in the seven kingdoms. That Dothraki grandmother is a goddamn tour de force.
Tyrion is begging her to reconsider.
They JUST TALKED ABOUT THIS. Hundreds of arrows flying at her in the last battle. If she dies they’re all lost. The world is lost!
Nope, she’s going.
“At least take a hat or some dire bear muffs! For christ sakes it’s the ears and neck where it gets you! I know! I’ve PISSED OFF THE WALL ITSELF!”
But Daenerys will not be dissuaded. And I start to lower my breathing, because it’s happening! I didn’t say it in the post, but I’m Team Dragonrider. That’s my GOT unbeatable moment. And I know what’s going to happen.
Tyrion is going to say. “I can’t make you stop, but I don’t have to watch you go alone. I’m going with you!” And then he and Dany strafe the White Walkers and Rhaegal lands and beckons for Jon to jump aboard. And I finally get it. Three dragons with three riders.
Yes! Go on Tyrion! Hop onto that - wait a sec, where’s your cold weather gear? You need to-
Aaaaaand she’s gone.
Now I love me some Tyrion, but his official advice here was “Let Jon and Jorah die.”
Let’s also remember that he’s the one that hatched this dumbfuck plan in the first place.
But Dany can’t and won’t do that. Up, up and awaaaaaaay!
Fool of a Took Ser Sandor Clegane of House Clegane has attention issues. So, just to fuck around, he wakes the dead. And the dead start coming.
But what is it? The skeleyton that Sandor hit with the rock looked down, seemed to process the rock hadn’t broken the ice and then decided to come? So the boneys have free will? I don’t get it.
But they start to come, from all sides, the way the undead are wont to do.
Let’s just get a birdseye view of the battle. Those are our boys there in green and…well, the rest are the dead. All 10,000 of them or so.
So, y’know. Above average odds against our team.
Just look at the moves on Beric! Why he’s so fast it looks like he’s barely moving!
By the way, I’d GIF this whole battle if it were socially acceptable, but I’m trying to show restraint.
From every angle, every nook, every cranny, pour the dead. A sea of dead. A Waffle House of dead. Everywhere you look: dead.
FALL BACK THREE FEET! Screams the King in the North. From here to like right there!
Then this super shitty thing happens where Tormund gets pulled down by the dead and he’s in real trouble. God we’ve never seen him like that, even when he was in the mid-scrum mano y mano duel with Smalljon that traitorous fuck.
Tormund is a fucking goner.
It’s awful to watch, I felt like my stomach dropped out watching that. Ugh.
And then who comes to save him, but The Dog! They said he was mean, they didn’t say he was also gallant!
I NEVER HAD A FRIEND BEFORE sing the swinging obsidian blades of Sandor Clegane as he pulls the Ginger from the muck and the very claws of the grim reaper himself.
Up up to the top of Lake Rock the heroes retreat. Step by precious step the dead push onward. Not since the hot ass pecs and Coppertone thighs of the Spartans at Thermopylae have so few cockpunched so many.
But this is looking bad.
The Kingindanorf pulls his prisoner up the slope. A boney breaks through and Jon Snoo backdoors his sword and Aragorns it.
I’m getting a bit misty again for that Jon Snoo. Fanning myself with a remote. OH JON SNOW! I DO DECLARE!
The last red shirt falls back into the mass of ghouls and is torn apart immediately like that merchant in Kings Landing when Good King Joff was outside the gates.
It’s over. Pull that coat check ticket out of your pocket folks. Take the last sip of your Diet Coke. This game is about to end.
We know that because we’re in slow motion.
Jon has stopped swinging Longclaw altogether. They’re finished.
And then, with a furnace blast that every single person in the world knew was coming, IN RIDES THE KHALEESI OF THE GREAT GRAWSS SEA!
AND SHE STARTS FUCKING FOOLS UP LIKE IT’S NOBODY’S BUSINESS!
We hear that now familiar 747 turbine sound. It’s magical.
The Ramin Djawadi music is playing over top like with a religion of it’s own, and we see boneys on fire and the ice melts and ghouls are sinking and by god it’s a miracle! Are we really going to be saved by Dany and her amazing technicolor snowcoat? Fringed with tiger pelt in the back because she also has a naughty side?
Are we going to just end the show right here, with all of the dead being roasted alive and the music composed by a person who I’m now certain has like, impeccable manscaping, playing our team to victory? Is that what’s going on?
Because up high where the sun don’t shine, the dork to end all dorks is about to hatch an evil plan.
Dany flies above and she and Jon lock eyes. It’s fucking cool.
She drops Drogon down onto Lake Rock and the dragon cleans out the approaching dead as Dany reaches for Jon and he for her.
But no, Jon realizes, Drogon can’t cover every angle.
Jorah is already on Drogon and he’s yelling “Jon!” We’ve never heard him yell that. Or say that. Northern badasses don’t often yell I NEED YOU KEVIN!
It’s usually like ‘Fuck you Sully’ or ‘eat my balls, Fitzy.”
But Jorah is past that. JON! JON!
And you’ll never guess what Jon is doing. Being a fucking Hero. Just like Dany hates!
“I was literally just complaining about this.” Dany thinks to herself, blowing a stray hair out of her face and rolling her eyes.
Meanwhile the dead are coming at Jon in like perfect one-at-a-time formations so he gets to show off lots of cool and different moves in front of his girlfriend.
Upstairs, while everyone else is kind of being wowed by the stellar quarterbacking of Jon Sneaux, Nerdmaster 3000 makes his move.
He somehow walks through flames, ignores the stationary dragon on the ground like nine feet in front of him and with barely any preparation, hucks an icicle like two hundred yards on a frozen rope, directly into the fuel juice bag of the strafing Viserion.
And I never knew that I actually cared about these dragons until this moment.
I can scarcely describe it I detest it so much. Viserion, whom I always thought of as Tyrion’s ride, bursts into flames. And he screals in pain and agony, pouring blood from countless wounds and as his brother screals in helpless agony behind him, Viserion the mighty hits the earth like a scirocco. The ice shatters and his great, green eye closes for the last time.
The life gone from the dragon, it sinks backward into the water, where it disappears under the ice.
And we get this shot.
Dany watches her child die.
Jon, however, is pissed. Pissed beyond all human emotion. He reaves a stray ghoul and stares at the wannabe Darth Maul asshole shithead who just killed a fucking dragon.
This is important. It feels important.
The Night King knows him from Hardhome when they last stared each other down. They have a shared destiny, somehow.
Jon’s eyes say FUCK YOU, I’M GONNA KILL YOU FOR THAT.
The Night King’s sinewy face dares him to try.
And then Jon understands. He’s going to kill another dragon.
“GO!” Jon Yells. “GO NOW LEAVE!”
As Jon is running back to Drogon, two random ghoul linebackers come out of nowhere and plant him through the ice. Dany stares at the hole where Jon vanished. She has to make a quick decision. Assholedork 3000 already has another icicle.
With a whisper to her most powerful son, Drogon flaps his mighty wings and fifty boneys fall backward from the gust.
The Night King takes dead aim and hurls his frozen toothpick of death.
Drogon dodges it and it misses them by inches.
YEAH DROGON! ATTA BOY! I’ve waited seven seasons to see anyone or anything zig or zag to avoid a ranged projectile.
R.I.P. Rickon Stark, the boy who ran straight for like half a mile.
Up up and away, Dany flies, casting a look behind her for her lost child and for Jon Snow. Her sadness is written across her face. Meanwhile behind her, Sandor is busy saving Jorah’s life and Tormund and Beric are doing their best to hold on for dear life.
Assholedork 3000 mounts his horse. The dead begin to disperse. It’s over.
And then The King of the North pushes up through the water and grabs Longclaw like it’s a warm steak sandwich. How did he fend off those linebackers? We’ll never know. He uses the handguard of his sword to dig into the ice surface and he wills himself up and out of the drink.
For a boy who was dead as a doornail, and told the Red Woman never to bring him back again, he sure wants to live.
Play dead! I’m yelling. Drag a leg!
But Jon Snoo is noble. He doesn’t have a lying bone in his body.
The dead sense some live meat behind them and turn.
Now it’s really over. Jon is a frozen fish stick. He’s wiped and he can barely lift his sword.
The dead run at him.
Cue the curtains in 3…..2……1 and wait! What’s that? A rider on a horse whapping ghouls with one of those incense holder things?
He cleans out the nearest dead and rides toward the Kingindanorf. With a swift motion he dismounts and walks to Jon, removing his mask as fast as he can.
“Uncle Benjen! How?”
But there’s no time. Coldhands, or the show version of Coldhands, anyway (I know because D&D were calling him Coldhands in the aftershow) puts Jon on his horse and whacks the horse on the ass. Now that same horse carried him, Bran and Meera, so I’m not sure why Benjen didn’t save himself as well.
But he didn’t.
Maybe he was sick of purgatory. Maybe he felt like saving both of his nephews was enough. In either case, he wades into the dead and his incense holder vanishes in a river of decaying clothing and skin.
R.I.P. Benjen Stark, A.K.A. Coldhands. Broother of the Night’s Watch. Savior of two nephews. Noble member of House Stark and a true hero.
And now his watch has ended.
I’ll say that the whole time Jon was left behind, I was absolutely confidant that Rhaegal would come back for him. But he didn’t.
I’m a bit shocked that the Night’s King didn’t just throw a magic spear at Jon as he rode away, but he didn’t.
Rheagal vanished from the sky when his brother died. Like Theon. He was just outta there.
Back on the beach south of The Wall, the Hound dumps the captive wight into a rowboat. He and Tormund share a deep, power nod. The nod of friends. Tormund had him marked right from the beginning.
“We’ll meet again, Clegane!” Says Beric.
“I fucking hope not.” Replies the Hound.
Far above, at the top of the Wall itself, Daenerys stands at a lonely vigil for Jon Snow, hoping against hope that this man she’s grown used to isn’t lost forever.
Just as she’s about to abandon her post, a horn sounds. Rider approaching.
One horn, you’ll remember, is for Crows returning. Two horns is for wildlings. Three horns is for the dead.
This is ONE HORN.
Dany sees John, unconscious on the horse, far below, and something changes forever in her.
We cut to the Targaryen ship.
Euron Greyjoy appears and sinks it! Roll credits.
No, luckily Euron’s perfect knowledge of everything only extends to the rulers of Dorne and their offspring.
We’re on the ship where they’re breaking Jon’s frozen clothes off of him and trying to get him warm. I was SURE that Dany would lay next to him and let the power of the polar zebra coat heat him back to life, but no dice.
Just look at this bad Johnson.
Before he’s fully covered, Daenerys sees the huge, terrifying gashes in his chest and over his heart. Is he still too little for you? Even your precious Khal Drogo couldn’t bounce back from wounds like that!
This is some amazing shit we’re watching and theeeeeeeeeennnnnn we’re back at
Where Sansa is rifling through Arya’s shit.
She’s really an idiot, then? Really? That’s what we’re landing on? God that’s depressing.
And of course we know the rest. She doesn’t find anything except a bag with halloween masks in it. I hate seeing that. I feel like it diminishes the Faceless Man brand. Arya appears behind her, silently, of course. Did Sansa not even like go to the library and look up Faceless Man in “Staying Alive For Dummies”?
If we’re going to have to leave the A plot for Winterfell, let’s at least park a maester on Bran to write down all of his visions, since he knows everything and shit.
God I hate what’s become of the Stark girls. Lady C may never get her wish. And with Viserion dead, I’ll certainly never get mine.
It’s dark and cold in House Castleton as Arya spins a Valyrian dagger at her sister.
Are we really here? Starks killing Starks? How are we here? Why are we here? I want to be here:
Now obviously we don’t know how this is all going to play out, but the show has a responsibility here. Since 2012, all across the globe people have named their children Sansa and Arya and Daenerys and Khaleesi.
Especially Arya. By a mile.
And many of those little cuties are about to be first graders. Are we really setting them up to be named after someone who commits sororicide?
WHERE IS THAT LENTIL SOUP I ORDERED. IT WAS LIKE AN HOUR AGO!
Arya is monologuing. We both wanted to be different people. You wanted to be a queen, I wanted to be a knight.
“The world doesn’t just let girls choose what they want to be.”
Theirs or ours.
Arya hands the dagger to her sister, exposes her back and walks away.
I hate it all.
ON THE SHIP
Mercifully, blissfully, we’re back on the H.M.S. Bonemaster.
Jon opens his eyes to see Dany sitting above him. He’s alive. A heroic fool who manages to always be four seconds from death before a woman rides in to save his beautiful ass.
“I’m sorry.” He says.
Right away, the second he wakes up, he feels for someone else. It’s charming. It’s kind and good and decent and perfect. I’m sorry.
“I’m so sorry.”
And unlike the Daenerys we saw in the Tyrion scene, we get back to the Daenerys from last episode, where Emilia Clarke kept hitting home runs.
She’s vulnerable and human and relatable.
She can’t even speak she’s so torn up. Jon takes her hand.
“I wish I could take it back. I wish we’d never gone.”
YEAH HOMES, THAT’S WHAT LIKE, ALL OF US WERE YELLING LAST WEEK. PFFFFFF.
But Dany says no, if they hadn’t gone she wouldn’t have seen.
“You have to see it to know. Now I know.”
The dragons are the only children she’ll ever have, she tells him.
“WE’RE GOING TO DESTROY THE NIGHT KING AND HIS ARMY AND WE’RE GOING TO DO IT TOGETHER. YOU HAVE MY WORD.”
OH HELL YES! GET SOME!
“Thunk yoo, Dunny.”
“Dany?” She laughs, trying to remember the last person who called her that.
“Okay, not Dany,” Jon smiles. “Then how about ‘My Queen’”
You want to know what a caveman I am? For a second I thought he was proposing to her. Like marry me and be my queen.
But then he says “I’d bend the knee, but-“
And this goes all the way back to the beginning of the show, when Tormund was giving Jon sage advice. About how Mance never bent the knee and what it cost all of them. Way to go, Jon! Advice from Tormund probably isn’t like 86% chicken-dim. Good on ya!
But Daenerys can’t believe her fookin ears. What about your people? What about-
MY PEOPLE WILL DO WHAT I TELL THEM. YOU JUST PULLED MY ASS OUT OF THE GRINDER AND YOU’VE GOT THE FANCIEST COAT AND BRAID COMBO I’VE EVER SEEN. YOUR HAIR MUST BE LONG ENOUGH TO WEAVE A MAGIC CARPET OUT OF. I’VE BEEN KILLED FAR TOO MANY TIMES TO LOOK A GIFT HORSE IN THE MOUTH. YOU WANT ME, YOU GOT ME. NOW LET’S PUT ON SOME SLOW JAZZ AND SEE IF WE CAN’T MAKE A BABY.
“They’ll come to see you for what you are.” Jon says. Damn that’s another nice thing to say! Jesus- wait. Is it white boy day? Because it feels like white boy day. (I know, I know! Every day is white boy day.)
So what happens next? Daenerys has been coveting Jon’s fealty since before they met. How will she react now?
1) Stand upright, shoulders back and cackle?
2) Yell “good now you kill Cersei and get me my THROOOOOOOONE!”
3) Revert back to her favorite game show host?
None of the above.
Instead, she’s lovely and kind and human and vulnerable and believable.
“I hope I deserve it.”
By god it’s a goddamn character party up in this joint. Just roll the tequila back out, friends! This isn’t going to be that kind of bender. And they stare and hold each other’s eyes for a beat and then, for some reason, she pulls away.
Is she going to slip into something more comfortable than the carcass of a striped dusk elk? No.
She tells him to sleep. And like a little boy, he does.
That must be a nod to those of you who are still uncomfortable with an aunt and nephew shagging.
YOU FUCKING WEIRDOS!
If there’s a single takeaway from this show it’s that
A) Hot people can play hide the pickle with whomever they want.
B) The Night’s King has great chains in his tool shed.
Aaaaaaaand he uses them to extract one large size dead dragon from the fahkin’ rivah! Or lake. Or whatever it is.
Last week John touched a dragon and it winked at him.
This week, his nemesis touches a dragon and brings it back to life.
And over hill and over dale, from every lavatory on Bear island to every Dornish rooster house. From the tip of the Citadel to the wind under the Moon Door in the Eyrie:
Things just got a lot worse. For everyone.
One episode left this season.
Eight total episodes left in the Game of Thrones.
See you all next week. Thanks for sticking around.
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