That was a really good episode. With carnage!
I’ll give the show runners credit: they did not shy away from Jon’s attraction to his own aunt. That was an uncomfortable good time.
There were some things at the beginning that were a bit fan-service-y, but fine. Jamie and Brienne. Gendry proposing to Arya (and Arya refusing). Tormund getting weepy over Brienne. Ghost being present. But that’s not really what interested me here.
Daenerys spent all of her time after the battle securing the loyalty of her followers. She buys Gendry’s good will. By doing so, she opened the floodgates of alcohol at the celebration. And then she tries to seduce Jon. Which he was totally into. Until he seemed to realize, “Wait a minute, I’m about to do it with my aunt.” That’s when she tells him never to tell anyone the truth. Which, if you’ve seen any five minutes of his character in this series, you know is impossible. The interesting bit was her face at the end. “We can. I’ve just told you how.” This was no seduction. This was his queen giving him an order.
Daenerys scares me more than any character other than Cersei. She is humorless, pitiless, and demanding of loyalty. Those who do not obey have this nasty habit of dying. And now she is going to destroy thousands of innocent lives. Here’s the question Daenerys makes you ask: if a person uses an innocent as a human shield, and you kill the shield in order to kill the evildoer, is that justified? Or are you just now another evildoer? And where is that line?
Sansa sees this about her, too, which is why she’s worried about her “brother.” She sees that he is too much like her father for this task. He is honest, which is great. But he assumes that everyone he cares about is too, which is naive. So, how best to protect her family, the North, and her honorably naive brother? Tell Tyrion about Jon’s identity. I don’t think she knows exactly how it will play out, but she trusts that Tyrion is — generally — a good person.
The news finds its way to Varys. I am frequently on Team Varys, and he seems right on here to me. Which is why I assume he will die. He may wait until Cersei is deposed, but I would not be surprised if Daenerys does not get to sit on the throne very long. He says something to Tyrion that I have long thought (and which Douglas Adams played out in the Hitchhiker’s Series): maybe the person who doesn’t want to rule is the person who actually should rule. He speaks honestly to her about her mistake here, and she responds by talking about destiny. But Varys, like me, does not believe that destiny exists. So, when anyone talks about doing whatever it takes to achieve their destiny, it makes me nervous.
There are also now three individuals traveling down the King’s Road from Winterfell with “unfinished business.” The Hound has to fight The Mountain. Arya still has Cersei on her list. And then there’s Jaime. I have returned to my long-held belief that Jaime will kill Cersei. With a sword through the back in the Throne Room, just as he did to the Mad King. Or, perhaps Arya will kill him, take his face, and kill her. It should be fun.
Now. That last scene. We lost another dragon (man, I did NOT see that coming). And the balance of power has shifted back to Cersei. Here are two things I noticed there: 1. Tyrion begged Cersei to think of her unborn child. But she hasn’t seen him since long before she slept with Euron. How long before Euron puts two-and-two together and gets “You are NOT the father,” like a Westerosi Maury Povich moment? And how will he react? 2. As the body fell from the wall, Tyrion looked back. That look was a recognition that he has lost Daenerys. Will he come to Varys’s side? Or will he choose Daenerys over his own intuition? And who will be right?
Martin (and the tv series too) have long pushed the idea that most of the actual people don’t really care who is king, except when the violence of these competitions for power end up in innocent blood. And yes, someone needs to root out Cersei. But at what cost? And will the people fare any better under the new ruler? Probably not. Because the wheel rolls on. Daenerys says she wants to break the wheel. But, if she attacks thousands of innocents, it seems more like she’s replacing one wheel for another.