This episode is so good! “The Queen’s Justice.” Which queen? There are two women who call themselves the rightful queen, and then there’s the Queen of Thorns. All three demonstrated their idea of justice, and all – ALL – of them are frightening.
But first, as good as this episode is, it raises some pretty serious questions.
First, and foremost in my mind: Just how big of a dick is Euron Greyjoy? Good God, man. Asking Jaime to his face for advice on fucking his lover/sister/baby-mama/queen [Ed: in full view of the Royal Court, no less!] is just asshole behavior of the highest order. However, he also shows himself to be capable of making some moves in the Game of Thrones. He now has verbal assurance that Cersei will marry him when they win the war. I don’t actually believe her, but still. Also, Euron gets the line with the most wisdom: the people “just like severed heads.” I’ve talked often about how both the show and the books show the brutality of leaders in a brutal system. But, as Euron points out, there’s another player in this murder-go-round: the masses. The mass population of King’s Landing has demonstrated themselves to be fickle, bloodthirsty, vindictive, and vile; quite the Basket of Deplorables. It’s no wonder Euron seems to understand them so well.
How did Tyrion allow himself to be outthought by Jaime? In fact, I was twice disappointed with everyone’s favorite Hand of the Queen last night. For one, Daenerys points out the Davos said Jon had been stabbed in the heart. And Tyrion – who’s just been talking about believing Jon’s story – dismisses this as a “flight of fancy.” Come on, Tyrion. You’re better than that. I hope he’s drinking enough, because his mind seems to be ossifying. He needs to limber up, mentally. SOMEONE GET HIM SOME WINE, STAT! He does do a nice job of swaying Jon from leaving and gets him to just come clean about what he really wants. He even gets a nice line: “I’m failing at brooding over failing.” But then, Jaime gets a move ahead of Tyrion on the chess board.
What this shows us is that the Lannisters in King’s Landing are not to be underestimated. Jaime has learned from his defeats and applies those lessons well. Cersei manipulates people (including the Iron Bank of Braavos) like a champ. These are not stupid evil people. They are brilliant, conflicted people, one of whom has decidedly come down on the side of evil. If Jaime had just been a good-looking, but ultimately brainless warrior, Tyrion’s plan would have easily carried the day. But, he underestimated Jaime. He should not make that mistake again.
Can they give Jim Broadbent more screen time? He’s amazing, and the Grand Maester is amazing because Jim Broadbent plays him amazingly. I don’t believe that the “punishment” he lays out for Sam is a punishment at all. I think that Sam’s answer to his question about the dangerous procedure, “I read the book and followed the directions,” is telling. The Grand Maester is having Sam copy these books, because he wants Sam to absorb the knowledge contained therein. I predict that Sam will find something in those ancient, mite-eaten scrolls to help save the day. At least, that’s how I’d write it.
And then there’s the justice of the queens. Cersei’s justice is justified, in a vengeful sort of way. Ellaria Sand killed Myrcella, Cersei kills her daughter using the same poison and forces her to watch the young woman die, and then rot. While this is certainly brutal, is it any more brutal than murdering Myrcella for revenge when Myrcella has done literally nothing wrong? I say no. Ellaria is as vindictive and overly-murderous as Cersei, and Cersei’s justice, while brutal, at least kills a full-grown daughter who has participated in violence against the Lannisters. But, for the thousandth time, DON’T FUCK WITH CERSEI!
The Queen of Thorns also doles out justice, even as she is dying of poison. She confesses to Jaime that she killed Joffrey. Well, maybe confess isn’t the right word. Confess implies that you are ashamed to tell. She is not ashamed. She willfully and intentionally tells Jaime at the exact moment because she will be dead before he can punish her further, and now he’ll be put into the position of needing to tell Cersei that their son’s murderer died without pain. This is like killing Joffrey all over again. She will hurt Cersei from the grave as payback for killing Margery. But, let’s be clear. While Joffrey was a monster, she chose to murder him through treachery, which is what kind of kicked Cersei over the edge towards crazy-ville. I remain firmly in the camp that thinks Jaime will have to be the one to finally kill Cersei. There really isn’t anyone else that can stand up to her. So, between Ellaria and Olenna, we had two women evil and vindictive and manipulative enough to counter-balance Cersei. As Olenna indicates, though, they could not imagine how far Cersei would go, and that lack of imagination makes them dead.
And now it’s down to Daenerys. She will have to be big, bold, and possibly evil to defeat Cersei. She has shown an alarming willingness to be violent in her punishments, and, if she’s to win, she will have to draw on that same ability. Man, that scene between Jon and Daenerys was awesome. And Davos Seaworth remains my spirit animal (#iamtheonionknight). But, y’know what? Daenerys flirts with egomaniacal authoritarianism too much for me. At least she listens to Tyrion and lets Jon mine the dragonglass, but she really wants blind fealty.
And she also needs the help of a capable warrior and general like Jon. Cersei is fucking killing it at killing people right now. Daenerys has to get after it, which she seems poised to do. But the tables have not only evened out. They’ve tipped the other way, away from her. She needs to take decisive action just to level out the balance of power, much less conquer Westeros.
But, something else struck me in that episode.
NONE OF IT MATTERS! Jon is right. They are all children playing at this deadly game while the Army of the Dead is poised to come over the wall. That’s the real fight. It’s Frodo and Sam taking the ring in reverse, where the most deadly thing to humanity is the thing that humanity is ignoring. It’s Harry’s snitch, if the snitch will FUCKING KILL YOU if you don’t find it. It’s the protomolecule creating life on Venus while Earth and Mars fight over fucking water. All that great character development, all the deliciously clever and vindictive machinations, all that bloodshed, all that monetary manipulation, all that sex, all that politics, all of it is pointless. All that matters is the fight against the Night King.
Winter is here.