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Based on where we left of last week and the title of this week, and the distance between the two, it was pretty clear how Game of Thrones would open and close it’s fifth episode on Sunday night.
We knew that characters would have to deal with the aftermath of “The Battle of the Loot Train” (dumb name, I know, but it is now show!canon thanks to Weiss & Benioff). We also knew that the titular Eastwatch would play a role in the episode.
As a reminder, the last time we heard news of Eastwatch, the aptly named eastern-most castle along the Wall, was during the first episode when Jon sent Tormund and his Wildlings there to defend the castle. It was also mentioned by a group of characters that have not been seen since this season’s premier. Remember, Beric and Thoros of Myr had Sandor Clegane look into the flames where The Hound saw the Army of the Dead marching on Eastwatch, which, as I mentioned, made it the likely Ground Zero for the War of the Living.
Yet, there was a great deal of ground to be covered in order to bridge the divide between the War for the Throne happening in the South and the imminent War for the Living in the North. So, let’s go through all that happened in Sunday’s jam-packed episode.
Somewhere Near the Blackwater Rush
The show did not keep viewers worried about Jamie Lannister’s livelihood in suspense, as the show opened with Bronn conveniently pulling Jaime across the River from Daenerys and her forces. In addition to being great with a sword, Bronn must also have been his era’s Michael Phelps, since he had the ability to retrieve Jaime from the depths of one of the deepest rivers in Westeros, that also happens to be known for its powerful current. It seems based on what happened later in the show that Jaime and Bronn could have just been captured and eventually sent back to King’s Landing with the terms of Dany’s armistice. But I digress.
After Bronn and Jaime discuss the fact that no army has any chance to stand against Daenerys’ dragons, Jaime resolves to rush back to King’s Landing to warn Cersei of certain defeat. Bronn also lets Jaime know that his service to House Lannister ends when it comes to fighting dragons.
Across the Blackwater Rush, Daenerys offers the surviving Lannister and Tarly forces a choice: bend the knee or be executed. While many of the men immediately choose to enter into service for the Mother of Dragons, Randyll and Dickon Tarly refuse. Although Tyrion attempts to intercede with his Queen to spare their lives, Dany refuses and has Drogon burn the two Tarly men alive.
It is impossible to overstate the parallels here between Dany and her father, the Mad King. The initial bloodshed that led to Robert’s Rebellion was when Aerys II ruthlessly killed both Rickard and Brandon Stark, Ned’s father and older brother, in the Red Keep. While Dany did offer the Tarly men a choice, it must be concerning for Tyrion as he watches this with the knowledge of the Mad King’s history of burning all those who oppose him alive. One thing the show has done incredibly well this season is point to parallels between both living Queens, Dany and Cersei, and Aerys II. It will be interesting to see if either meet a similar end as Aerys (sup, Jaime?) or if either, or both, descend into total madness.
After returning to Dragonstone, Tyrion relays his worries of Daenerys’ cruelty to Varys, who shares his concern. They resolve that the only way to curb this side of Dany is through good, forceful advising. Near the end of his reign, Aerys II banished all of his advisors and Hand’s that attempted to oppose him. Hopefully, we will not the same actions from Dany.
When we first see Winterfell, Bran has taken control of a large group of ravens and is scouting north of The Wall when he sees the Army of the Dead descending upon Eastwatch. As the ravens fly past the thousands of wights, the Night’t King looks directly at the group of ravens, immediately break Bran’s control over the birds. This once again shows that the Night’s King has some ability to repel Bran’s powers. Once his consciousness returns to his body, Bran informs Maester Wolkan to dispatch ravens relaying the news.
Quick note here: this is the first time in the story we see any Greenseer or Warg, whether it be the old Three-Eyed Raven or Bran, take control of a large group of animals. This illustrates Bran’s continually growing power.
In Winterfell’s Throne Room, Yohn Royce and Robett Glover once again bring their concerns about Jon’s leadership direction to Sansa, with both going as far as to insinuate that Sansa become the permanent Queen of the North. Overhearing this, Arya questions why Sansa allowed the men to question Jon without taking their heads. After a brief lesson on politics and the needs to keep their allies, Arya and Sansa have a frosty exchange. It is clear that it is not all rainbows and butterflies for the recently reunited sisters, and that real tension exists between the two.
Arya then leaves her sister to follow around Littlefinger, who is clearly up to his typical tricks. He is seen passing a piece of parchment to an unknown girl and meeting with Royce and Glover, before Maester Wolkan delivers one of Maester Luwin’s old scrolls to Petyr in his bed chamber. Under the belief that she is unseen, Arya sneaks into the bed chambers and searches for the scroll, which she finds tucked away in his bed sheets. It turns out the note is from non other than Sansa and is the letter she was forced to write to Robb after Ned was beheaded, beseeching Robb to bend the knee. You may recall, Robb and Catelyn both immediately knew that while Sansa wrote the letter, the words were certainly that of the Lannister’s.
Unbeknownst to Arya, however, Littlefinger was aware she was following him as we see him lurking in the background as she lives his room. This seems like an attempt to sow further discord between the two Stark sisters. The scroll, if it ever got into the hands of the Northern lords, also could serve the purpose of delegitimizing Sansa in their eyes. I’m sure that Arya will confront her sister about this next week, and that Sansa will explain the letter was written under duress.
Keep in mind that part of Arya’s training at the House of Black and White in Braavos was learning to read people, to know if they are being truthful or attempting to deceive. This should allow Arya to suss out what is really happening, and that Sansa meant nothing by the letter (if not, it would be a pretty sizable plot hole). If this is the case, the two sisters would have to realize that Littlefinger is up to something, at the very least actively sowing chaos through their ranks and the worst preparing to take control at Winterfell. At any rate, it seems some confrontation is certainly on the horizon in Winterfell.
At The Citadel
Bran’s raven warning of the Army of the Dead reaches the Citadel just in time for Sam to overhear the Grand Maesters discuss its veracity and possible implications. As it seems the maesters are ready to declare the letter to be false, Sam pleads with them to reconsider, divulging his experiences at the Wall. The Maesters decide then to dig for more information, and send a return raven to Winterfell.
Later that evening, as Gilly and Sam do some light reading by the fire, Sam grows frustrated by the lack of action on the part of the Maesters, deciding to pick up and leave the Citadel, as he can be of greater use elsewhere. But not before Gilly unintentionally stumbles across a significant passage in Grand Maester Maynard’s memoir about annulments. She tells Sam that Maynard apparently granted an annulment for a Prince “Ragger” to marry another woman in Dorne, butchering the pronunciation of Rhaegar in the process. Sam does not at all realize what this means and after stealing as many books as he can carry, departs The Citadel.
Obviously, the implications of this news are far-reaching. This makes it clear that Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark (the Tower of Joy was in Dorne) were married when Jon was conceived, making Jon the true born son of the Crown Prince, the rightful King of Westeros, born of Ice and Fire, and the Prince that was Promised.
Daenerys arrives back on Drogon, who lands directly in front of Jon. Drogon then allows Jon to approach and pet the dragon, hammering home this episodes findings on his heritage. Daenerys is clearly taken aback at Drogon’s acceptance of Jon, but before they can speak much, Jorah Mormount returns.
Following the heart-warming reunion, Jon receives word from Bran about the movements of the Army of the Dead, which also brings Jon the first news that his brother and Arya are still alive. The group then brainstorms a way to put aside the hostilities with the Crown in order to deal with the existential threat to the North. Tyrion posits that Cersei would listen to Jaime, who just might listen to Tyrion, if there was someway to prove the existence of the White Walkers. The group decides it will attempt to capture a wight and bring it to King’s Landing, in order to prove they exist. Tyrion then sets off to secretly treat with Jaime at King’s Landing.
At King’s Landing
Upon returning to the city, Jaime tells Cersei there is no way to win the war, but the first Queen of Westeros pays him no mind. Cersei informs Jaime of her plan to hire sell-swords, although Jaime believes it best that they bend the knee or leave Westeros. This clearly upsets Cersei, who tells Jaime to leave.
Davos smuggles Tyrion ashore and then heads for his old stomping grounds of Flea Bottom, while Tyrion meets with Jaime beneath the Red Keep. It is clear that Jaime has not forgiven Tyrion for murdering their father in cold blood, and their exchange is strained. Nevertheless, Jaime takes word of the proposed cease-fire to Cersei.
Upon entering Cersei’s chambers, Jaime passes Qyburn, who always seems to be whispering the Queen’s ear. Jaime relays the offer of an armistice to Cersei who says she had been thinking that pausing hostilities with Daenerys was in their best “short-term” interest, clearly indicating that she has a trick or two up her sleeve. Upon hearing this, Jaime seems apprehensive until Cersei informs him that she is pregnant, convincing Jaime to stay by her side. Don’t forget, however, Maggy the Frogs prophecy to Cersei, that has rung true thus far:
Cersei: Will the King and I have children?
Maggy: Oh, aye. Six-and-ten for him, and three for you.
Now, I believe this prophecy to be completely accurate, which allows two possibilities: either Cersei is lying about being pregnant to manipulate Jaime or Cersei will not survive until the end of the pregnancy. I side with the former – but also think that Cersei’s life may be coming to an end in the near future.
In Flea Bottom, Davos returns to the Smith that Gendry left in season one to avoid the purge of Robert’s bastards. It is there where we finally reunite with Gendry, who despite popular belief, has not actually been rowing the Narrow Sea for the past four seasons. Rather, he’s been forging weapons in King’s Landing, hiding in plain sight from Cersei and the Lannister’s. Davos recruits Gendry to return with him to Dragonstone and as they leave, Gendry grabs the old warhammer of his father, King Robert Baratheon.
As Tyrion, Gendry, and Davos attempt to head back to Dragonstone, a couple of Gold Cloaks stop them on the shore of the Blackwater Bay. Gendry, however, makes quick work of them, showing that he is in fact his fathers son with a warhammer. Seeing the warhammer was definitely on the highlights of this episode for me. The legend behind the weapon has always made me hope to see it someday.
Back on Dragonstone, Jon prepares to set sail for Eastwatch with Davos. Jorah and Gendry decide to join the King in the North on his mission as well. The four set sail for the North.
At Eastwatch, Jon reunites with Tormund and tells him of his mission to capture a wight. Tormund mentions that he picked up three other Southerners saying that they had a mission North of the Wall and leads Jon to Eastwatch’s dungeons. It is here that Jon finds Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr, and Sandor Clegane. Despite some protest from Gendry, Jon declares the group to all be on the same side. After, Davos decides to stay behind at Eastwatch and the Seven – Jon, Gendry, the Hound, Beric, Thoros, Tormund, and Jorah – head beyond the Wall. From the previews, it seems highly unlikely that all will survive.
This also conjures memories to the legend of The Last Hero, a Northern Lord who ranged North of the Wall to find the Children of the Forest during the Long Knight, who would eventually defeat the Night’s King. In that legend, one-by-one all of the Last Hero’s companions, including his dog (looking at the Hound) fell during his journey. Hopefully, for our sake and the sake of several fan favorites, Jon’s journey North will have a bit higher success rate.
Can you believe there are only TWO EPISODES LEFT this season? At least it appears that they will be super-sized episodes. Are you confused about anything that has happened this season or have questions about what’s to come? Send all your questions my way in the comment section below or via Twitter @matwellsays & @fawkesculture. THREE EPISODES LEFT!