Subtitle: survivors surviving
You can tell this is both a shortened season and the penultimate season. All the bands are getting back together, romance is in the air, and we’ve already had three surprise attacks. Three in four episodes. We’re barreling towards the endgame. However, while there is always the sense that anyone can die at any time, because that’s what Game of Thronesis known for, there is a supplementary sense that the people who’ve survived this far are required to have Significant Deaths. I mean, even Olenna Tyrell got to go out like a boss and she is not one of the Main Players. There was nearly a significant death in this episode, two plausible possibilities, but that’s not quite what happened.
In King’s Landing, Cersei’s banker is so disturbed that she’s repaying her entire mortgage he tries to rope her into opening a new loan immediately. Banks are the worst in every reality.
Interestingly, while they set up the idea that the Bank would turn on her immediately if the promised gold was not repaid as planned (because banks are the worst), they also made a point of saying the gold was delivered to King’s Landing prior to Dany’s attack on the caravan. So whatever Cersei’s losses, she maintains her relationship with the Iron Bank.
In Winterfell, as yet another plot point returning from season one, Littlefinger gives Bran the dagger that was used in the assassination attempt on his life. I guess it’s an attempt to get Bran in his good graces? I don’t really understand anything Baelish is doing this season. I think we’re to believe he wants to marry Sansa, and then use the North to take the Iron Throne, and since she’s not playing along he’s going to her brothers because that’s how it’s done? But it’s weird he’s being up mostly front about it and even weirder he thinks ANY of the Starks are going to go along with that plan.
Anyway, in things that are actually important: Arya makes it home! She has to deal with two terrible guards because the episode needed humor, or something. I’ve nothing against humor and I did enjoy Sansa’s withering look at them, and that she knew exactly where to find her sister. But last week’s episode made it clear Sansa is gifted at running her keep so why would she have two numbskulls guarding the door? And why would they assume Arya was dead but Bran got so much fanfare? Oh well, anyway, because the girls hug twice (!!!) we get THREE Stark Siblings Reunion Hugs™ this episode, as well as Sansa acknowledging that Jon + Arya is the best relationship in Winterfell: “I remember how happy he was to see me. When he sees you, his heart will probably stop.”
The third hug is between Arya and Bran and it goes about as well as Sansa and Bran. As he told poor devoted and abused Meera Reed (#MeeraReedDeservesBetter), Bran is not Bran anymore. He’s a vessel for visions who looks like Bran. And he has no need for a dagger so he gives Littlefinger’s to Arya the Assassin. This is clearly significant. Bran is All Seeing so he knows it’s meant for her, or she needs it.
Will she use it to murder Cersei? Baelish? That would be poetic and he really doesn’t seem to have a purpose right now. Most importantly, the dagger is Valeryian steel, so Arya is now armed against the White Walkers. And she holds her own sparring against Brienne (the team up of my heart is finally happening!!). Sansa and Arya have achieved what they set out to become so long ago in the very beginning of the series. Sansa is a Lady and Arya is a warrior. But the road they took made them so much harder and when you add in Spiritbot Bran it’s all a bit devastating.
In Dragonstone, Jon woos Daenerys with a trip to see her dragonglass and a cave full of paintings done by the Children of the Forest. The cave drawings depict the Children teaming up with the First Men to defeat the Night King and his army. Jon wants Dany to follow their example and team up with him for the same. Our dragon queen seems charmed by the cave, and by Jon, and tells him she’s ready to go all in just as soon as he swears fealty to her. She calls his refusal to do this pride and I want to throw it right back at her. It seems being Queen of six kingdoms should be enough, especially when she is starting to believe in the monsters.
Unfortunately, their underground date is interrupted by the news that they’ve lost their third and last Westerosi ally. Tyrion counsels her to stick to the plan but Dany is out for some fire and blood and wants to take her dragons and go after Cersei directly. In a move that proves she’s coming to trust him, she asks, and when he demures, commands Jon to tell her what he’d do in her situation. Well, of course Jon wouldn’t rain fire on his enemies for vengeance, and he sells it to her by saying she’d be no better than a Cersei or a Robert or an Aerys if she used her magical beasts to burn the world.
Aside: wrt to Jonerys, it’s on. Before all this, Dany and Missandei share some girl talk about Missandei’s evolving relationship with Grey Worm and after all this, Davos nudges Jon into admitting he’s attracted to Dany. While the first scene is not about Jon, he interrupts it, and it’s clear the two scenes are meant to parallel. Then we have the echoes of Jon taking Dany into a cave, just as happened with Ygritte, and Jon telling Davos she has a good heart, which references Jorah’s characterization of her. They’re related, but, the Targaryens married each other for generations, and who else should he end up with? Sansa: also related. Lyanna Mormont: is a child. Cersei: lol. I’m just saying.
Theon and one lonely boat arrive at Dragonstone and it is not a happy Stark reunion. It more resembles when Jon attacked Littlefinger for creeping on Sansa. But in this case it’s Theon’s actions helping Sansa that save him from Jon’s wrath. Of course, Theon didn’t come back to Dragonstone to fight with Jon, but to ask the queen’s help in saving his own sister from his uncle. But the queen has flown off on a mission of her own.
In a rocky valley close to King’s Landing but somewhere Dany can get to with her Dothraki really quickly (look, time and space no longer matter in Westeros, okay? That’s why Cersei got a giant map floor, to try and understand. But she can’t and neither can we), Bronn whines about not getting his castle yet and Jaime says, when we win! Famous last words. Then Dickon Tarly admits he didn’t like fighting against his former allies in Highgarden, and also battle is dirty and smelly and not actually any fun at all. At which point Dany and her Dorthraki and her dragon appear to hammer the point home.
Jaime Lannister is Good at Fighting, it’s one of his main traits. He hears the horde and sets his soldiers to arms, and their strategy might have worked against the Dothraki. At the least they would have held their own. But they have no chance at all against two angry dragons: Dany and Drogon open fire and it’s basically over before it’s begun.
Jaime, to his credit, stays with the battle, and fights to the bitter end. And he apparently inspires Bronn to do the same. Instead of taking his huge pile of gold and leaving, Bronn follows Jaime’s direction to Cersei’s ballista and shoots it at the dragon. He’s able to hit, though it just seems to make Drogan angrier, and even succeeds in downing them briefly so Dany can pull the arrow out. This gives Jaime the opportunity to rush Dany with a spear like the knight he always wanted to be. But Dany has a giant fire breathing dragon protecting her so that was not the smartest move, as his little brother watching from the hill murmurs to himself. But Jaime is pushed out of the line of literal fire and into the water at the last second. The episode ends with him falling backwards into the deep.
My two plausible possibilities for a significant death this episode were Jaime, the Lannister least likely to survive the season, and a dragon.
I don’t think Jaime’s dead. What purpose would the last ditch attempt to save him have if he ended up dead anyway? Going forward, it would be smart for Dany to capture him. Jaime is the only person in all of Westeros Cersei cares about. It’s quite likely she doesn’t care enough about even him, but capturing him would certainly anger her, and she’s not as smart when she’s emotional. In this scenario we get a Jaime and Tyrion reunion, with Jaime knowing for certain Tyrion had nothing to do with Joffrey’s death.
They may assume he’s dead, though, in which case he can return to Cersei…or he can escape his terrible life. If Bronn is the one who saved him, I can absolutely imagine him pitching the idea. And Jaime wouldn’t do it, because love, but then, when he drags himself back to King’s Landing he witnesses Cersei refusing to pay Dany and Tyrion a bounty for him — because Tyrion tells Dany that Jaime is the only person in all of Westeros Cersei cares about and so they should pretend to have captured him — and Bronn’s words that Cersei’s not worth it because she’s a crazy lady who only cares about herself ring in his ears and he leaves before she sees him. Or he kills her (Jaime has long been the favorite to kill Cersei but this season is really setting it up to be Arya).
If Dickon was the one who saved him, well, maybe we get another crack road trip duo and I am always here for that! They can bond about terrible fathers and lovable brothers.
As for Drogon, I was never afraid for him. He could be (and was) hit, he could be (and was) hurt, but killed? Not Drogan. If she’d brought one of the other two, okay, but not her bestie.
Dead: Many Nameless Soldiers and Some Nameless Dothraki
Next Week: Dany continues to try to get people to bow to her. Jon continues to try to get people to care about the zombies. Maybe somebody tries to save Yara?