Subtitle: a game of warrior women and broken boys
Season seven is NOT messing around. The first episode lingered, setting pieces on the stage, but now that everybody is in Westeros, and despite Dany and Tyrion’s best intentions, they are all back to
teleporting running around the seven kingdoms willy nilly to kill their enemies, or whoever they happen to find.
In King’s Landing, Cersei holds court on her Iron Throne, in front of her giant Lannister seal window (shout out to the people, both on screen and behind the scenes, who have to constantly redecorate). The Lannister twins use the tried and true strategy of casting foreigners as savages in their bid to steal factions away from the Tyrells, who have joined forces with the Queen of Dragons after Cersei blew up most of their family.
Poor Jaime can barely keep a straight face when Cersei calls Dany the Mad Queen because let’s be real about who is most likely to burn them all to the ground (okay, fair, it’s a toss up). But certainty that his sister has turned into exactly what he feared Aerys was when he killed him aside, Jaime totally plays the same ‘omigods Dany’s army is made up of criminals’ card as his sister in his private meeting post court so tldr; they are the worst (still love ’em, though).
Sam’s dad is wooed to take over as Warden of the South when they defeat the Tyrells, and the ‘previously on’ reminded us he is Also Terrible, so of course he’s gonna sign on with Scarsei and her feckless brother-lover.
Finally, Qyburn and his league of mad scientists have built…well, basically the thing that Bard the Bowman uses to kill Smaug.
At Dragonstone, Dany throws her power around like the boss she is. First she interrogates, threatens, and finally pardons Varys for conspiring to sell her and kill her way back in season one. She accepts his impassioned speech on behalf of the little people and asks him to tell her when she’s failing them rather than moving on down the list of kings to work for. And then she threatens to roast him one more time, for good measure.
Melisandre arrives because I guess she’s still important — the whole Red Priest Prophecy of the Chosen One bores me, but at least here we have Missandei being linguistically awesome and throwing down some truth about the genderless pronouns of Old Valeryian (or whatever language they’re speaking). Melisandre also suggests Dany invite newly crowned King of the North Jon Snow to Dragonstone because she’s sure he’s important. Tyrion backs this play because he really likes Jon Snow and would like another bro on the island.
So Dany calls her War Council of Women and it is awesome. Yara, Ellaria, and Olenna just want to burn the world but Dany, quoting Tyrion in the previous scene, doesn’t want to rule a kingdom, or seven, of ashes.
Tyrion lays out plan: Yara will take Ellaria to get her Dornish army and they will join the Tyrell soldiers in surrounding the capitol while the dothraki and unsullied march on Casterly Rock to take out the true seat of power. This is a very Tyrion plan. They all agree and Olenna gives Daenerys some grandmotherly advice:
Before they march Grey Worm confesses his love to Missandei and she gently and beautifully invites him into her bed, and they deserve so much happiness, please do not kill these two precious cinnamon rolls in love!
Over at the Citadel, Prof Slughorn gives Jorah the bad news: he’s gonna turn full dragon in 6 months and live as a monster for up to 20 years. There’s nothing to be done, so, he’ll give him a night to say his goodbyes and kill himself. If Jorah wasn’t an aristocrat, he would have shipped him off to exile in a box, because even Game of Thrones has something to say about healthcare.
But Sam has discovered a cure by reading, and though it is dangerous and forbidden, he is determined to save the son of his late commander. Which is darling. Also darling:
Daenerys is the only one Jorah wanted to say goodbye to.
Up in Winterfell, Jon gets missives from Tyrion, inviting him to Dragonstone, and Sam, telling him the dragon glass he desperately needs is in Dragonstone (what a coincidence!), and decides to go meet the Dragon Queen against the advice of basically everyone.
But he leaves Sansa in charge which settles them all down because a) unlike Jon, Sansa agrees with them, b) Sansa is a Stark, so at least they still have one, c) Sansa is a girl so they might think she’ll be easier to manipulate, or d) hells, who even cares anymore, the world is ending anyway. One of those.
Before he leaves, Littlefinger tries to ingratiate himself with Jon but instead he says three ridiculously wrong things in a row. First, he reminds Jon that he brought Ned’s bones back to his widow on behalf of the Lannisters, which, why would you do that? He also admits he never liked Ned, but Ned loved Catelyn, and he loved Catelyn so he couldn’t entirely hate him, except that he definitely did. Then, he reminds Jon that Catelyn didn’t really like Jon, which, again, I have no idea why he would bring that up. Finally, he explains he loves Sansa just as he loved Catelyn, and Jon attacks him because that is a 10,000 on the Creep-o-Meter.
So either Baelish has completely lost the plot or the writers have forgotten how to write him. Or both. I honestly have no idea what’s going on with that, but I expect him to make his move on Sansa next week, now Jon’s left, and I just, please gods, let her be smart.
Somewhere in the Riverlands, Arya meets back up with Hot Pie. He tells her Winterfell is in Jon Snow’s hands, and she immediately sets off for it, and him. She chooses to go home instead of off to kill the queen and I am so proud of her!! And so sad that Jon won’t be there, but, Sansa will (maybe Arya will kill Littlefinger for us) and he’ll be back. Someday they will be reunited, I believe.
On the way, she meets up with a wolf pack led by Nymeria and invites her to come home, too, but Nymeria bounces because Hello! all the other direwolves are dead or missing. Nymeria is smart.
Finally, on the waters between Dragonstone and Dorne, the Sand Snakes bicker in their berths while Ellaria and Yara decide to hook up. These two scenes remind me strongly of the last glimpses of Fred and George Weasley (Sand Snakes), and Lupin and Tonks (Bisexual Generals), we get before they are killed in action. But the strongest foreshadowing of what’s to come is Yara protecting her brother from Ellaria’s teasing, and telling her Theon will be her protector when she is Queen. Because of course Pirate King Euron attacks Yara’s fleet, kills a whole bunch of people, burns a lot of boats, and kidnaps Ellaria and her daughter for Cersei, and Yara for himself.
Theon has a chance to try and save his sister, but dives off the ship because he’s flashing back to his entire horrible existence, and also someone needs to report in to Dany right away. Truth be told Theon had no chance whatsoever to save Yara — Euron had her, and was taunting him, and it was set up to be another Run Rickon Run moment — and leaving was the smartest option, if another betrayal.
I used to wear this t-shirt with a sketch of Luke Skywalker’s face:
And it was mistaken for a Theon Greyjoy shirt. Which is bonkers on many levels. But that was circa season three and in the intervening years, Theon’s grown on me. Like sea mold, but still. He’s nothing like Luke, he’s next to nothing like Anakin, but he’s a little bit like Kylo Ren and I have a thing for Skywalker boys, even the worst of them. Theon consistently makes terrible choices that get good people killed. He’s not a hero. But he’s also not a villain. Or an anti-hero, or an anti-villain if that’s a thing. He’s a victim, he’s a pawn, he’s the most broken boy. He’ll never fully atone for his sins, and I definitely want them to stop putting women in peril to drive home that point, but, I find myself caring what happens next.
Yara is devastated but, silver lining: she’s not dead (yet — they’re almost all going to die, that’s the only way this will end, and the Greyjoys are poised to die out entirely like the other ‘extraneous’ noble families). She’s sailing to King’s Landing with Euron’s other prizes and I expect 1000 Yara/Ellaria hurt/comfort fics. Don’t let me down, internet.
Winning: Queen of the North Sansa Stark, Grey Worm and Missendei, Pirate King Euron
Dead: two Sand Snakes and a lot of Iron Born
Next Week: Jon and Dany meet face to face!!