It really is a season of reunions. Just this week: Tyrion and Jaime; Daenerys and Jorah; Gendry and all the viewers who have been asking “What About Gendry?” We also got two more major hints about Jon Snow’s true heritage. First, when Daenerys returned from her attack on the Lannisters and parked Drogon on a mountaintop, Jon Snow was able to stare the beast in the eye and pet it. That strongly hints of Targaryen blood. (His ability to harness Drogon was certainly a shock to Daenerys.) And during Gilly’s reading session in Oldtown, she stumbled over a passage talking about Rhaegar Targaryen’s marriage annulment, which we know resulted in a child with Lyanna Stark.
Only two more episodes to go this season …
Jaime is alive — and a father to be!
We had to wait approximately 1.7 seconds to learn Jaime’s fate after almost being turned to toast by Drogon. It was indeed Bronn who saved him, and he finished off the save by getting him out of the lake and immediately admonishing him for attacking Daenerys when she was STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO A FIRE-BREATHING DRAGON. Jaime is appropriately shook by the damage that Drogon inflicted upon his army and knows there’s no way to win a war against Daenerys if she ever decides to use all three of her weapons.
Back at King’s Landing, Jaime gives the depressing report to Cersei, telling her it’s not just the dragons but the Dothraki, as well. “Killing our men wasn’t war, it was sport,” he says of the horse lords. He tries to convince Cersei that they should get Tyrion to intercede on their behalf, which goes over about as well as you’d think it would go with the woman who thinks he killed her son, killed her father and hated him even before that. Jaime tells Cersei of Olenna’s death-wine confession about being the one who killed Joffrey, which would make Tyrion innocent in that death. This just makes Cersei upset that she let Jaime talk her into giving Olenna a peaceful death instead of a violent one.
What else would make Cersei upset? Jaime secretly meeting with Tyrion right underneath her nose in King’s Landing. Of course, we later learn that Cersei knew exactly what was happening when the brothers reunited in the Red Keep. It’s been since the Season 4 finale that they’ve seen each other — when Jaime freed Tyrion from death row, and Tyrion proceeded to kill both Shae and Tywin before skipping town with the help of Varys. Tyrion tries to flatter Jaime by telling him how clever his plan to abandon Casterly Rock and sack Highgarden was, but Jaime’s not having it. There are hardly any pleasantries, but Tyrion gets across the message he’s there to share — we need to have a truce because the real threat is coming from beyond the Wall in the north.
Jaime confesses to Cersei that he met with Tyrion, and she feigns disbelief before admitting that she knew it was happening. She’s of the thinking that accommodating the Dragon Queen may be in their best immediate interests, and that to win this war shorthanded, they must use Tywin as inspiration. Be clever, be cunning. “Dead men, dragons and dragon queens … whatever stands in our way, we will defeat it,” she says, glowing. But that’s not the normal Cersei warmongering glow — that’s a pregnancy glow. She delivers the good news to Jaime and says that he is the father. (We have no reason not to believe her … right?)
“People won’t like that,” he tells his sister. “Remember what father used to say about people?” Cersei asks. “The lion does not concern himself with the opinions of the sheep,” she says, before the two embrace. But not before she delivers one last threat: “Never betray me again.” Many people (myself included) subscribe to the theory that Jaime will ultimately be the one to kill Cersei, so this line carries a little more weight under that thinking.
Also — does this mean that we’ve seen the last of Cersei with a glass of wine in her hand? Or do you just throw caution to the wind on that front if you’re already giving birth to a child of incest? I’m sure Qyburn will give her some solid medical advice.
Daenerys at her harshest and kindest
There is growing concern among many of us that Daenerys is following in the footsteps of her father and going mad. The events at the beginning of this episode didn’t quell those concerns. Speaking to the surviving members of the Lannister army (with Drogon intimidatingly looming behind her), she tells them that she’s not here to burn cities or murder everyone, she just wants them all to bend the knee and join her.
One great roar by Drogon and many of them do just that, but not Randyll Tarly, who is the ranking commander with Jaime not there. Daenerys singles him out and he stands by his decision even after being called out by Tyrion, who notes that he’s only been loyal to Cersei since he betrayed the Tyrells, a matter of … well, time spans are always hard to tell on this show. “You, on the other hand,” Tarly says to Tyrion, “murdered your own father and chose to support a foreign invader, one with no ties to this land.” The man has a point. Tyrion tries to get him sent to Castle Black to become a member of the Night’s Watch, but neither Randyll nor Daenerys likes that idea.
Randyll’s son, the newly noble Dickon also decides he will not bend the knee. It’s quite a quick transformation for a guy who just a few hours ago seemed to be queasy with all aspects of war — now he’s ready to die to keep his pride intact. Tyrion pleads with Daenerys to not start beheading entire families and that means he was probably the last person to realize that there will be no beheading, just crisping. And with a calm-but-stern “Dracarys,” Drogon incinerates the Tarly men. And that sure does the trick in getting the rest of the men to bend the knee.
It’s a much different side of Daenerys a little later when a newly healed Ser Jorah Mormont finds his way to Dragonstone to once again offer his service to his Khaleesi. (Travel has suddenly become very efficient in the Seven Kingdoms.) “You look strong … you found a cure,” she says to him as they embrace. He also looks a little scraggly; Samwell spent hours upon hours getting rid of all of that grayscale, he couldn’t have spent a few extra minutes and given Jorah a haircut? The bond between Dany and Jorah has always been pure and seemed stronger than ever upon their latest reunion.
Jon Snow is pulled back to the true battle
If there’s one thing that Jon has been consistent about, it’s that the politicking for the Iron Throne is absolutely secondary to the coming war against the Night King and his army of the dead. When a raven delivers a message from Winterfell that said army was marching toward Eastwatch — and, oh yeah, that Arya and Bran are both alive and back home — he regains his singular focus on turning his attention to the north.
The Dragonstone brain trust concocts a plan that Jon will lead a group beyond the Wall to collect one wight to then take to King’s Landing to prove to Cersei that there is indeed an imminent threat facing all of humanity. Meanwhile, Davos will smuggle Tyrion into King’s Landing to meet with Jaime to set the stage for this eventual presentation. Jorah will accompany Jon on his leg of the mission, which is noble of him but also surprising since you’d think he’d want to spend just a little more time with Daenerys, his true love. They have an emotional farewell (it’s their specialty), as Jorah packs up what seems like a box of dragonglass for the journey. Jon and Daenerys also say their goodbyes, with Jon joking that if he doesn’t make it back at least she won’t have to deal with a King in the North anymore.
Davos doesn’t just take Tyrion to King’s Landing as an escort/smuggler, he’s got business of his own. And that’s tracking down long-lost Gendry, bastard son of Robert Baratheon who we last saw waaaaay back in the Season 3 finale, when good-hearted Davos shipped Gendry off in a rowboat in the dead of night to free him from Melisandre, who was set to offer him as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light. (As she is wont to do.) “I thought you might still be rowing,” Davos says upon finding Gendry right back where we first met him, in King’s Landing’s Street of Steel.
Since making his way back to Fleabottom, Gendry has been hiding in plain sight from Cersei, continuing his work as a blacksmith. Davos launches into a whole spiel about wanting to take Gendry away from King’s Landing and before he can even get three words out, Gendry is basically like, when we can we leave? He grabs his weapon of choice — a giant hammer — and takes off with Davos, who tells him to keep his father’s name to himself because everything is complicated enough as it is.
The pair are stopped at the shore by a couple of goldcloak security men upon trying to depart, but fast-thinking Davos is able to pay them off. That is, until Tyrion (fresh off his quick catch-up with Jaime) meets up for the rendezvous and the dumb-but-not-THAT-dumb goldcloaks realize there can’t be too many dwarves with very specific facial scars walking around the Seven Kingdoms. Before things get out of hand, Gendry grabs his trusty hammer and completely bashes in the heads of the two men who were just doing their job. And off the trio sails, back to Dragonstone.
Winterfell is a hotbed of distrust — just how Littlefinger wants it
With Jon away, Sansa is nominally in charge in Winterfell. But it’s Littlefinger who is (as always) pulling the strings. Arya finds Sansa living in Ned and Catelyn’s old chambers, which rubs her the wrong way. She’s also peeved by the way Sansa not giving a full-throated defense of Jon while hearing out the lords earlier. “Offend them and Jon loses his army,” Sansa tells her little sister. “Not if they lose their heads first,” Arya responds.
And here’s where the disconnect between the sisters is most clear. Arya’s first (and second, and third) instinct is to resort to violence. Sansa has become more strategic and calculating, no doubt a side effect of hanging out with Littlefinger for so long. But Arya also sees Sansa’s power-hungry side, and calls her out for preparing for a Winterfell without Jon Snow, even if she’s doing it subconsciously.
Never one to let a rift exist without exploiting it, Littlefinger goes to work on the sisters. Arya spies him speaking to some randos before getting a delivery of what Arya overhears as the “only copy” of a certain scroll in Winterfell. He then puts said scroll in his chambers before leaving, as Arya quickly breaks in to search for it. Of course she finds it, because of course she was meant to see everything that transpired, the secret conversations and the scroll delivery.
As for the scroll, it sure seemed like the note Cersei made Sansa send Robb after Joffrey’s ascension to the throne, telling him to pledge loyalty. Does Littlefinger want Arya to find this to make it seem like Sansa was not loyal to even her own family and has always been angling for as much power as possible? That does seem like something Littlefinger would do. Another thing he would do is smirk in a shady hallway after seeing Arya play right into his trap.
Sam leaves Oldtown
Fed up with the snail’s pace of how thing’s move at the Citadel, Sam packs up with Gilly and little Sam and makes a middle of the night exit. The final straw was when the archmaesters didn’t take his advice after they received the raven from Winterfell telling of Bran Stark’s visions. Sam vouches for Bran’s credibility and says everyone must act but the best they can offer is writing a letter back to Maester Wolkan at Winterfell to get to the bottom of things.
So Sam rummages once more through the stacks to steal some choice offerings and packs up the fam. Perhaps he’s going back to his family home of Horn Hill, where he will be surprised to learn that he is now the only surviving male, since father Randyll and brother Dickon were smote by Drogon. (Information that the Oldtown maesters kept from Sam.)
The Hateful Eight go White Walker hunting
Jon, Davos and Gendry (who immediately outed his true self to Jon, against Davos’s wishes) head up to Eastwatch, where Tormund has been holding down the fort that’s closest to where the army of the dead is amassing. He’s disappointed “the big woman” hasn’t made the trip north and is dumbfounded that this group wants to go into the wild, but lets them know they aren’t alone. Because down in the cell are some new prisoners — the Hound, Beric Dondarion and Thoros of Myr.
The connections here are plentiful — Gendry has no love for Thoros and Beric, who pawned him off to Melisandre. Jon remembers the Hound from his visit to Winterfell way back in Season 1. Tormund figures out that Jorah’s father, Jeor, was the former Night’s Watch leader who hunted wildlings for years. But Jon convinces everyone of their common ground — “we’re all breathing” — and the small group heads out into the harsh winter to pick a battle with the White Walkers. Which it looks like will be the centerpiece of next week’s next-to-last episode of the season.
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