This episode had me rewinding and pausing to read scrolls. It had me pausing to explain fan theories that got confirmed. It had jokes to make superfan laugh. It set up tragedy. It stole a visual from How to Train Your Dragon. It had everything! In fact, it probably had a bit too much to be a cohesive episode. This was a “move the pieces” installment after the crazy destruction of last week. My apologies in advance if my thoughts are as random and scrambled as this episode was.
The only weak storyline, in my humble opinion, was the scene between Arya and Sansa. Their antipathy seemed to go from zero to 100 instantly with little real provocation. So, now Arya hates Sansa for not beheading loyal followers with large armies? Arya may favor violent revenge, but she is far too intelligent not to understand the long game Sansa is playing here. Come on, Game of Thrones. You’re better than that!
And, MY GOD, Littlefinger is a manipulative little prick. I’m beginning to fear that he will survive the series. He’s like a cockroach. A hyper-intelligent, duplicitous, scheming, manipulative little cockroach. He knows Arya is following him. The scroll he fed her might piss her off, but it seems like something Sansa would be able to explain to her. For those who didn’t rewind and pause, then go to the internet for confirmation, the scroll was written in season one, shortly after Ned was arrested, Arya escaped – awww, Syrio Forel – and Sansa was taken by the Lannisters. Cersei forced Sansa to write to Robb demanding that he come to King’s Landing and bend the knee to avoid war. The letter speaks well of the Lannisters and Joffrey. It would no doubt anger Arya, but Sansa was forced to write it under duress. My much bigger fear is that Littlefinger is actually playing a long game here. Now that he knows she’s spying, what could he feed her? That dick!
Cersei is wonderfully controlling and manipulative in her own right. I don’t buy for a second that she is pregnant with Jaime’s fourth child. I mean, I could be wrong, but it seems awfully convenient that she happens to get pregnant at exactly the moment that his resolve to be her warrior is faltering. She also dangles the concept of legitimacy in front of him, suggesting they come clean about their love. She is so much her father’s daughter, Tyrion should nick her bowel with a crossbow bolt. But, at the same time, she put herself in a position of power over Jaime. She may love him, but she treats him as she does everyone: as pawns to be moved about her chess board. I do, however, agree with her, that suing for peace would be impossible, and that, if they want to stay alive, they need to bide their time and find a way to win. As she herself said in season one, in the Game of Thrones, “you win or you die.”
Speaking of people who probably should be dead, Gendry’s back (and there was much rejoicing). It’s worth noting that the last time we saw him, Davos put him in a dingy to row from Dragonstone, which is a FUCKING LONG WAY TO ROW. Literally miles of rowing. On notoriously rough seas. In a row boat. Davos – my spirit animal – tells Gendry that he thought he might be “still rowing.” And all the superfan laughed! I never understood the fan fascination with Gendry. He’s interesting enough, but he never struck me as particularly compelling. It was interesting how they got him back to the Brotherhood Without Banners (because, in the novels, he stays with the Brotherhood, although he does help save Brienne from Biter…but I’m getting off topic here). Whatever the reasoning of the writers to bring him back (cough cough, fan pandering, cough cough), it was executed well.
And now, a rag-tag group of men with intertwined grudges heads north of the Wall to take a wight captive. I think that one of those dudes is returning to King’s Landing as the wight. My money’s on Jorah. Jonah gets killed by a walker, then gets brought back to King’s Landing as proof of the Army of the Dead. Whatever happens, not all of those characters are returning home alive.
So, Daenerys took another step towards Aerys-town by burning her enemies alive. Tyrion’s reaction to this confused me, to be honest. Not so much because I’m in favor of executing all those who oppose me, but because she’s literally done this since she was just the moon of Khal Drogo’s life. Her enemies get crushed, and she smiles. She enjoys it. For several seasons, she has had an unsettling ease with violence. Tyrion has known this. So, why does this suddenly make him so uncomfortable? I think it’s because these are people he knows, even if he hates them. The violence that seemed acceptable on Slaver’s Bay now seems too much, because it’s home. I wanted the yell, “you knew this when you signed on with her!” Her only saving grace right now is that she’s still rational, as Varys points out.
We also got a small inkling of the attraction between Jon and his Aunt Daenerys. Drogon even approves of Jon, who pulls a Hiccup from HTTYD and touches Drogon’s nose. Must be the Targaryan blood.
However, the most important fact that Gilly confirmed in a throwaway line is this: Daenerys is not the rightful heir of Westeros. Jon is. Gilly mentions that a Maester had annulled the marriage of a lord named Rhaegar and married him to a different woman at the same time. Rhaegar is Jon’s father! If he annulled his marriage to his Dornish wife, it was to marry Lyanna Stark. That would explain why Kingsguard were at the Tower of Joy even after the king’s death: because the rightful heir to the throne was inside. Rhaegar didn’t rape Lyanna and father a bastard. He wooed her, married her, and their son is Jon. Ned had been harboring the heir to House Targaryen even as King Robert sought to kill off all traces of that bloodline.
So, if he’s a Targaryen, maybe the whole “hots for your aunt” thing will be cool. Ya never know!