Subtitle: I almost feel confident enough to predict the end now.
This episode has all sorts of surprises! Many expected, but a couple delightfully unexpected. The theme of the season is clearly reunions and meetings and they seem to be more and more abundant. As are emotionally charged moments sold by actors who, by and large, have fully embraced and settled into these roles. The cast of characters is still absurdly large but they are mingling, pieces are falling into place, an end game is in sight. The series is almost completely separate from the source material and it’s all a bit ridiculous but I. Am. So. Pleased.
On the grasses outside King’s Landing, Daenerys’ Dothraki gather the survivors of last week’s dragon raid and present them to their queen. “Join us or die,” she says and a few drop immediately because their peers burned to death before them and it’s not like Cersei is popular. Drogon roars and another wave of men fall to the ground but the Tarleys and a handful of others stay standing.
There’s a bit of back and forth with Tarley Sr. the tldr; of which is, the Lannister twins ‘make Westeros great again’ campaign worked on him cuz he’s racist and entitled and he refuses to take the Black anyway so get on with it. In what is probably his only good act on this earth, he tries to spare his son, but Dickon chooses honor which translates to being burned alive. Tyrion is disturbed (Tyrion spends most of the episode disturbed).
Meanwhile, Bronn pulls Jaime out of the river. He claims it’s all for the castle he was promised but we all know it’s because he loves his Lannister Boys. They head back to King’s Landing where Jaime tries to convince his sister that they have no chance whatsoever against three dragons and their mom but she’s set on dying trying. Jaime is distraught (Jaime spends most of the episode distraught).
But then! Bronn brings Jaime down into the show’s new favorite set, the room of dead dragons, where he has snuck in Tyrion because he loves his Lannister Boys. Jaime and Tyrion don’t hug, because patricide and being sworn to different queens and stuff, but they look at each other with Deep Emotion and I also love my Lannister Boys.
Why is Tyrion secretly meeting with Jaime? Because Bran had a vision of the ginormous Army of the Dead marching on the Wall and sent notice to everybody in Westeros. It’s ignored by most but Jon, of course, believes it (though, he thought Bran was dead for some reason) and he’s apparently convinced Dany because she agrees to treat with Cersei in order to team up and fight them. This definitely surprised me and I cannot begin to tell you how delighted I am!!! I love the Lannisters. They are truly terrible, but I love them and I was sad thinking they were going to be destroyed in order to unite Westeros and go fight zombies. I had very little hope they would try and rope Cersei into the unite Westeros to fight zombies plot but that’s where we’ve arrived! So Tyrion is sent to meet with Jaime who passes on the message to Cersei that the Dragon Queen wants to set aside their current battle and team up to fight zombies in the North. He promises to send proof of this whole ridiculous concept aka an actual zombie.
The best part is that Cersei is completely chill about the whole thing. Jaime confesses to all these shenanigans and she deadpans, “I know, dumpling, I know everything. Zombies, dragons, Targaryens, oh my. I’ve decided to play along and then when the dragons have murdered all the monsters for us we’ll kill everybody in their sleep like good little Lannisters. BTW, I’m pregnant again.” And Jaime is SO HAPPY and SO HOPEFUL and it BREAKS MY HEART. Then Cersei murmurs, “Friendly reminder just because I love you more than anyone else doesn’t mean I’m not going to kill you in your sleep, too.” and Jaime is distraught again. Gold star for Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (who honestly has deserved an Emmy for at least 3 of 7 seasons).
While Tyrion is off on his family reunion, Davos is collecting the last piece of the Royal Rumble, fan favorite Gendry! Everything that happened with Gendry was super obvious, from the slow pan reveal to him murdering hapless Lannister guards (they were not any funnier than last week’s) to him coming along on the secret mission in order to spout random exposition. And I’m so upset he didn’t mention Arya to Jon! But the point is: Gendry Not Baratheon is back, and he straight up introduced himself as Prince Gendry so I expect great things.
In Dragonstone, the next order of business is the secret mission to kidnap a zombie in order to prove to Cersei that zombies exist so she will join their merry band of zombie killers. Again: this entire plot is delightful!
Operation Zombie will be lead by King Jon and includes Prince Gendry, Ser Davos (but only as far as the Wall cuz he’s not a fighter, and Ser Jorah who arrives just in time to leave again. That’s right we get Jorah appearing on the island for a tearful reunion AND Jorah’s tearful goodbye as he leaves the island to kidnap a zombie (I know I keep saying this but it’s too hilarious and wonderful that this is their actual literal plan). Also, is it me, or did Jorah get his hair styled to resemble Daario? I think it was actually the wind:
Poor bear, she’s moved on to her nephew and he has always had the best hair in Westeros. AND, her dragon really likes him (because he’s her nephew and I guess that means they’re cousins).
When they get to Eastwatch, the crew is then joined by Tormund, the Hound, Dondarrion, and his brotherhood of fire. As D&D say in their wrap up after the episode, this collection of misfits slowly realize they all hate each other, and it’s pretty satisfying to see the disparate plots finally starting to come together. It’s also satisfying for Jon So Tired ™ Snow to tell them all to get over it because zombies.
In Winterfell, things are finally happening! The Northern lords are uppity because Jon left, and Arya is annoyed that Sansa didn’t …… cut their throats??? Well. She’s upset that Sansa didn’t vehemently oppose the chatter against Jon. She’s upset that Sansa took over their parents room. And she’s upset that Sansa likes being a faux queen, and is also pretty good at it. These are reasonable if not wholly valid complaints from Arya’s point of view, though I mainly applaud Sansa for it. But Arya expresses her concerns by suggesting Sansa should cut the throats of Jon’s enemies and like. What? Arya. Come back to reality. Or go join Jon, be his adorable little assassin secret service. (Has anyone told Jon that Arya is back????????????)
Anyway, Arya then stalks Littlefinger and falls face first into his trap to pit sister against sister (or so we are lead to believe). On one hand thank goodness Littlefinger is actually doing something sneaky and underhanded and has something resembling a plan! But on the other hand UGH WHY is it to stoke the flames of fury between Sansa and Arya whhhhhyyyyyyy. I do not want this plot at all. Please be smart, Sansa. All my hopes are pinned on you!
Finally, in the Citadel, it’s farewell to the Citadel! Sam is finally and forever fed up with the
Jedi maesters inability to listen to anyone other than themselves and he steals a bunch of restricted scrolls and heads home with Gilly and little Sam. In terribly clever irony, Sam misses the Important Intel that Prince Rhaegar had his marriage to Ellia Martell annulled so he could marry Lyanna Stark which means Jon is not only the direct descendant of the Targaryen King, he is not even a bastard — because he had in that moment a achieved a maester level inability to listen to what Gilly was saying. So now GILLY is the keeper of the secret.
Sam is also now Lord Tarly but doesn’t know it. Neither Jorah nor Jon know that Dany burned their BFF Sam’s father and brother, either, at least as far as we are aware. I don’t know what the fallout of that will be but I think it will end up haunting her.
Winning: Jon Targaryen. Lord Baelish.
Dead: Randyll and Dickon Tarly.
Next Week: Zombies vs Jon Snow’s Suicide Squad. Maybe somebody saves Yara?