It’s good to have Game of Thrones back!
And in an episode with NO DORNE!!!! Huzzah!
The cold open was really a well-executed - if, can we all agree, really obvious scene - of Arya’s wrath. *sings* She’s cold blooded!
Arya’s other scene was the GoT equivalent of what I like to call the Grosse Point Blank move, where you say exactly what is true, but everyone thinks it’s a joke. Good times, and with an Ed Sheeran version of an English folk song to boot.
The Hound has a soul, which is good to know. He can feel guilt now. And he seems to be turning down alcohol. And with that clarity of vision, he sees the real danger they’re facing. That actually makes me wonder if he doesn’t bury the bodies just so that they won’t rise up against him in support of the White Walkers. But, for the Hound, that might be the way in to a sense of true morality. Empathy enforced at the edge of an ice blade, as it were. Either way, I would wager that the Brotherhood is headed to Eastwatch, and they’re not alone.
Tormund the Brienne Mounter (well, not yet…) is on his way there as well. That would also be as good a place as any for the Pikish to attack the North. So, we may end up with everyone meeting where the Wall meets the sea. That could be the location of the epic battle that fills the second to last episode of this half season.
Speaking of the Northerners, my wife and I were prodded into a politico-philosophical discussion by the scene between Jon and Sansa in front of the rest of the Northern nobility. Sansa’s point about rewarding loyal houses is a fair one, and should at least be discussed. But Jon’s way creates loyalty in houses that were turning away, instead of resentment. Really, what needs to happen is he needs to establish a small council (including Sansa) to discuss these things privately, away from the prying eyes of other nobles. For what it’s worth, my wife is on Jon’s side, and I kind of agree with Sansa. We’ll see where the show takes us.
So, Cersei’s gone round the bend, but she retains her manipulative skill. In many ways, she is more like her father than either of her brothers. Ruthless, practical, and without any loyalty other than her family, she has convinced the Ironborn fleet to fight for her in exchange for literally nothing. Euron’s going to bring her Tyrion’s head (I assume) simply as a way of proving himself. There is nothing like an agreement that she will marry him if he performs well. She could keep him running on that lack of promise for years. We’ll see if they’ve got that long.
Last season, I ended up rooting for Jaime and Cersei. Now it’s down to just Jaime. Yes, he’s incestuous, hyper-violent, etc., but he’s also dangerously close to honorable in his dealings with other warriors, and he makes a valiant effort to bring Cersei back to reality. I see many such scenes in the episodes to follow. Also worth noting, the table in Dragonstone that is a map of Westeros was commissioned by Aegon the Conqueror, and, as Cersei acts more like a Targaryen by the hour, she is now having a precise map painted on the floor of a large room in her keep. Where’s that “symbolism” alarm…
Samwell had some pretty serious and important screen time. All those chamber pots actually made for a more gagging and nausea inducing effect than the bloody, poisoned Freys. But the info he found, that a large deposit - a “mountain” - of dragon glass lay hidden under Dragonstone is incredibly important. It sets the stage for a meeting between Jon and Daenerys to negotiate the mining of that invaluable weapon. I could even force that being a reason for a strategic marriage, which would then lead to the crushing of the Lannister dynasty.
And Daenerys gets to go home. That largely wordless scene was moving. And how does a place like that actually exist on earth, with all those exposed sedimentary layers, and soft sand beaches. Remarkable. And her perfect line as she takes her place in the same room from which Aegon planned his attack on Westeros: “Shall we begin?” Shit’s about to pop off.
But let’s remember why we’re all here. Bran and his protector return to the Wall. That is, ironically, likely the most important thing in this episode. He is the Tree-Eyed Raven, he can change past and present and future. From him, many questions will be answered. But who is left to Hold the Door?