The summer is over. Time for some reunions after the long hiatus. Welcome back to Winterfell High! Friends, enemies, frenemies, casual acquaintances that will be thrown together, the nerd and the hot popular girl. The homecoming king brings his new girlfriend from a rival school. They all meet up as the school year begins. That’s essentially what we got in this episode. (We also get writers who haven’t posted anything on Geekade since the LAST season of Game of Thrones, but that’s neither her nor there).
Let’s start with King’s Landing, just to get it out of the way. Euron reunites with Cersei, and it feels so good (see what I did there?). He is clearly her rebound man since her brother left her — that sentence would be weird in any other context. She’s planning something by sleeping with him. Is she really pregnant and using Euron to explain the baby without incest? Or, is she using him to get pregnant as she told Jaime and Tyrion she was? Unclear at this juncture. But she’s still pulling strings, that’s for sure.
Bronn is supposed to reunite with Turion, so to speak. Bronn is an interesting character. He’s an upjumped mercenary, so the money might just sway him. But, he also legitimately likes Tyrion. Whether or not he puts a bolt through Tyrion or Cersei depends, in my opinion, on Cersei’s relative position after the battle in the North.
Speaking of mercenaries, there’s a new kid in school this year: The Golden Company. Here’s the thing with mercenaries (in reality and in the novels): their loyalty is only to the company itself. If someone comes at them with more money, or if the person who hired them doesn’t appear to be able to pay, they can turn on their contractor real quick.
Okay. To the North. Obviously, Jon brings Danaerys home and reunites with Bran and Arya. My personal favorite line was when Jon greets Bran and says, “You’re a man” and Bran responds, “almost” because Bran is not really human anymore. Not in the normal sense. Which may be why he is SO EMO. He totally has a My Chemical Romance tattoo on his shoulder blade. Maybe a Fallout Boy tramp stamp. I’m kind of stunned he hasn’t started wearing guy-liner, a la Toby Maguire in Spiderman 3. On a personal level, it took me a long time to right myself to the fact that Bran is incredibly important to the story. Bran is literally driving the plot at this point. He cuts off the artifice of the Queen’s arrival at Winterfell and gets them all to the brass tacks of fighting the army of the dead. He has so much more to do in this series, but I’ll be damned if I know what it is.
Sansa reunites with her first ex-husband. Near the end of the last season, I noted that a lot of people seemed to be out-thinking Tyrion. Sansa also sees what I see. Tyrion is very smart. But, he routinely underestimates his enemies, which is why he assumed that Cersei had told him the truth about sending her armies north. And Sansa’s suspicions will be confirmed by Jaime’s arrival. I love Tyrion, but he is clearly not all that. However, he’s smart enough to (maybe) survive the coming battle. So we’ll see what he has left to offer.
I just want to get this out in public in case I’m right: I do not see him lasting to the end. Time will tell.
Arya reunites with Jon AND Gendry. I kinda want Arya and Gendry to get together. I’ll admit it, I want Arya to find love. But, I’m much more concerned with what she asked Gendry to build. I saw the drawing, but I have no idea what it is. It looks like a projectile weapon of some kind. Is that for Cersei? We don’t know.
Can we talk about Danaerys? Everyone seems convinced that she can change the cycle of brutality. Unless she has a pretty major change of heart, she cannot do this. I really don’t know why we all seem to be rooting for her. She’s capricious and violent, vengeful, proud, self-centered, essentially everything we all love to hate about Cersei. Except, she doesn’t like slavery. I mean, good? But why do we assume that her rule will be any more just than Cersei’s? Cersei blew up the Sept of Bailor. If not for Tyrion, Danaerys would have. And, as her reunion with Sam reminded us all, SHE BURNS PEOPLE WHO DENY HER ALIVE! If brutality weren’t so common in Westeros, she would be literally the worst.
Tormund, Beric, and others survived. That was at once fun and disappointing. I said after the last episode of season 7 that Tormund should be dead, but probably wasn’t because we didn’t actually see his body hit the floor. Someone please explain to me how the fuck he survived! He was at the top of the wall when the dragon started destroying it. How is it physically possible that people that high up got all the way down and out to safety before the wall fell? They should be dead. But they’re not.
Watching that Umber kid spiked to the wall, then his eyes start to glow, then the burning flesh message from the Night King is a visual that will haunt my dreams for a while, I’ll tell you that.
Jaime also reunites with the kid he tried to kill to protect his incestuous relationship. That was a jarring reunion. Because Bran is SUCH A CREEPER EMO KID! Jaime will have a hard time selling himself as an ally, though I think he’ll get there.
Now, then. The reunion of Sam and Jon (the nerd and his jock friend). Sam said two things of extreme importance here: first, that Jon is who he is. This really begs the question: how much aunt-fuckery are we as an audience willing to forgive if the man and his aunt are both hot? I imagine there will still be people rooting for them to be together.
“I totally ship Jon and Dany.”
“She’s his aunt.”
Up to now, neither one knew, so they get a pass. But now, Jon knows. Just how far down de Nile will he be willing to sail? My guess is, pretty far.
But the far more important thing from Sam is a question: Jon gave up his crown to protect his people. Would she? The obvious answer is: no. Dany is not a savior. She is another selfish leader, only she might — might — be willing to listen to those who have a human capacity for empathy. We shall see.
Things are about to move very quickly. I read an opinion piece today that argued for more talking and less action. Generally, I agree with that impulse. However, we have reached the catastrophe. For those unfamiliar with classical tragedy, this is the final battle, when all the threads meet at the end. The action is the point. There will be many shifts and twists as we hit the delta of this mighty river. As I have now officially mixed my metaphors, let’s just say that this should be a pretty fun ending. But most of the characters will be dead.