So Sunday we got episode 3 of the latest season of Game of Thrones, firmly moving us to the middle of the season. This episode was bittersweet to me, both in tone and execution, and I felt that while I liked some parts of the episode, others were frustrating to me. Generally, this season has been good but in comparison to the last season it has so far been lukewarm. Of course, I say this knowing that the next four episodes could blow my mind and leave me with ALL the feelings so I’m willing to wait patiently for that. A LOT happened in this episode so I’m just going to get into it.
Jon and Davos arrive in Dragonstone making it the first time Jon has gone south, the first time he and Tyrion have seen each other since Season 1, and the first time Davos has been back to Dragonstone since Stannis left to go North. We also get, of course, as Melisandre puts it, “ice and fire together” in Jon and Daenerys’ meeting. One thing I love about the show wrapping up is that we are finally getting characters together who have been existing in the same universe but have never seen each other before this. Of course, this makes for interesting interactions as some of the personalities of characters we love end up clashing. It was clear this meeting wasn’t going to go as well as Jon had hoped the moment Missandei had Jon and Davos hand over their weapons, which made me nervous given the Stark history in the South, though Jon doesn’t seem too outwardly nervous saying that while this is true, he isn’t a Stark. Of course he means that he’s a Snow, but this is only one of a couple of hints to Jon’s Targaryen parentage and I can’t wait for that official reveal to everyone other than Bran.
As I mentioned before, Melisandre is still at Dragonstone, but she’s smart in that she doesn’t go to meet Jon and Davos - even if she didn’t go back North Davos would have definitely killed her. Varys comes up to Mel’s cliff to taunt her, but Melisandre seems to be done with the Game as far as her ambitions go. At this point it seems that she’s realized her mistakes and feels remorse, and though I still don’t trust the reason for her remorse I do believe it’s genuine. She still believes she has a role to play however, and announces that she will be going to Volantis. Varys basically threatens her, telling her not to come back but Mel says that she will return, that she is doomed to die in Westeros, as is Varys. Clearly Varys is shook, but I’m more curious about what is in Volantis. Could a certain king’s bastard have rowed his way all the way to the oldest Free City?
Meanwhile, Jon and Daenerys officially meet in a scene that has them both at peak Stark and Targaryen, respectively. There is immediate tension in the throne room not only because Jon is claims himself to be King in the North but also because of the recent bloody history between the Starks and Targaryens. Dany goes off about Jon breaking faith with the Targaryens and Jon rightfully points out that her own father started Part 1 of Starks Dying In The South when he burned his grandfather Rickard and uncle Brandon alive, after her brother Rhaegar (allegedly) stole his “aunt” Lyanna away. Dany immediately backtracks, asking for forgiveness for her father’s crimes, but this demonstrated her personal flaw: she always starts too big. She claims her familial titles and rights before taking responsibility for her family’s actions. Even with her apology, she doesn’t back down, telling Jon she will name him Warden of the North if he revokes his title. However, Jon has been with the wildlings too long to kneel all willy-nilly to anyone claiming the right to the Iron Throne. He mainly refuses because he clearly doesn’t want to bring his men south when there is a real threat from the north, and he explains to Dany and Tyrion about the Night King. While I’m not surprised that they don’t initially believe him, it was frustrating to watch Dany do what all the southern lords do - worry more about power than literal ice zombies coming to turn everyone else into ice zombies. Davos - who was dethroned as the greatest hype man in Westeros by Missandei - puts it best saying that she will be “ruling over a graveyard if [they] don’t defeat the Night King.”
Later, Tyrion speaks with Jon, who it seems he actually does believe about their impending icy doom - mainly because he trusts that Jon wouldn’t lie. It’s great that Jon has someone at Dragonstone on his side, but it isn’t clear what can be done about convincing Dany or anyone else who doesn’t personally know Jon and who can vouch for his honesty. Tyrion councils Jon as he councils Dany telling Jon to ask for something more reasonable and while my mind immediately jumped to marriage (because it’s clearly the only option for this alliance to work) Jon brings up the dragonglass buried under the castle. Tyrion relays this request to Dany, who is not only worrying about the recent blow to her navy, but is still wondering about Davos’s earlier slip about Jon’s death. Either way, Dany tells Jon that she will allow him to mine the dragonglass and they get a less-tense moment to speak with each other. I can tell that the two of them are going to grow to like and respect each other but at this point they are at a stalemate over the North and it wouldn’t be smart for Dany to go there to fight, especially with the whitewalkers coming. It really seems like the only way for her to sew the North back into the rest of the Seven Kingdoms is for them to get married, which will probably be even more necessary when Bran announces that Jon is actually a Targaryen and has a stronger claim to the Iron Throne than Dany does.
Dany thinks it would be a good idea to take her dragons to burn Euron’s Iron Fleet, but Tyrion shoots her down saying it’s too dangerous for her to do it alone which means SHE NEEDS TWO MORE DRAGON RIDERS BECAUSE THE DRAGON HAS THREE HEADS. Anyway, the Unsullied will be at Casterly Rock soon so he says they should wait for that to happen first.
The Narrow Sea
Meanwhile, in the Narrow Sea, Theon must be blessed and highly favored by the Drowned God because he still isn’t dead. I’m not really sure what they’re doing with his storyline at this point. I thought he would at least get some kind of real redemption arc, but like other characters I will mention later it kind of feels like the writers have forgotten about him. Like I said in the previous recap, the Greyjoy storyline isn’t really all that intriguing anymore and has been one of the weakest ever since the Boltons took Winterfell from Theon. But who knows, maybe he’ll be of use in the final ten episodes.
Speaking of the only other Greyjoy being given a semblance of a storyline, Euron arrives to King’s Landing dragging Yara and the Sand Snakes behind him. He arrives to the love of the people of King’s Landing, which I thought was interesting given that he’s on Cersei’s side. I would think that after the Sept of Baelor they would hate Cersei more than ever, though I would understand a healthy dose of fear. In my head it would make more sense for them to be silent, terrified of what Queen Cersei could do to them, not cheering for her ally as he brought in captured members of the Targaryen army. Euron is enjoying every minute of it - he’s really jovial and finds humor in everything, especially his continued pissing contest with Jaime. And again while I know we’re only three episodes in I’m having a hard time finding him more horrible than Ramsay and Joffrey just because he is a formidable opponent on the sea. So far he hasn’t done anything more horrible than anyone else in this show and other than his Jack Sparrow-like demeanor I don’t see anything different in him. After hyping him up I’m pretty underwhelmed by him.
One thing I did notice is that while he presents Ellaria and Tyene to Cersei, he keeps Yara for himself - which could be potentially problematic to say the least. After bringing Cersei the last two Sand Snakes as a gift, he reiterates his marriage proposal and Cersei agrees that they can marry once they win the war. Down in the dungeons, she poisons Tyene in the same way that Ellaria poisoned Myrcella and condemns Ellaria to watching her daughter die and then rot, showing that she is still grieving for Myrcella in a way that she isn’t for Tommen, and that she is still the most sadistic character out. While in terms of Cersei’s storyline this is a badass moment and it’s great that she gets to get her revenge, in terms of the Dorne storyline this is more than disappointing. Again we see this show hold up it’s white female characters more than their female characters of color, and we honestly should’ve seen it coming when they elected to not include Arianne Martell in the show at all. The Sand Snakes started off so strong, ready to take revenge for Oberyn’s death, and by having Ellaria killed Doran Martell the writers made it seem like they would be a real threat. Instead, we didn’t see them for another eight episodes and then they were agreeing to become soldiers for Daenerys. I would have rathered Ellaria and the Sand Snakes become larger threats to Cersei but instead they fizzled out in a way that felt wrong.
Cersei is later called to a meeting with a representative from the Iron Bank of Braavos and I had to overlook my own annoyance with Mark Gatiss. The Lannisters owe the Iron Bank a huge amount of debt and they are coming to collect. Cersei assures them she will pay because she’s a Lannister and you know what they’re known for. In order to convince the Iron Bank to stay on her side and not defect to Dany’s side (although didn’t they already defect to Stannis’s side?), Cersei brings up Dany’s crusade against slavery in Essos and how the Iron Bank must have lost a lot of money in that investment. It works for plot because it allows Cersei some time to get her stuff together, but canonically it makes no sense because this is the Iron Bank of BRAAVOS, a city that overthrew their Valyrian masters and that is made up entirely of descendants of ex-slaves. While the Free City of Volantis still has slavery and invests in it, Braavos resolutely does not, and that comment from Cersei is indicative of what feels like sloppiness in the writers’ haste to wrap up the show. Either way, Cersei has two weeks to pay the Iron Bank back or they will invest in someone else.
Up north in Winterfell, Sansa is preparing the castle for winter. As she walks around giving commands we get to see what she’s learned about ruling, both from her parents and Cersei. Of course Littlefinger won’t go away even though she’s clearly tired of him. He counsels her to look south instead of north but FAM THERE ARE LITERAL DEAD PEOPLE RISING FROM THE SNOW PLEASE LEAVE. He tells her that he knows Cersei better than anyone in Winterfell, to which Sansa rightfully claps back at but at this point just banish this dude please. Littlefinger then begins droning on about fighting every battle all the time in your mind and enemies are friends and see the future and past at the same time and these are all nice sentiments when the Night King isn’t marching on the Wall.
Anyway we get to leave that sorry excuse for a human being for ANOTHER STARK REUNION! Bran has finally made it to Winterfell and while Sansa is extremely happy to see him, apparently that travel from Uncle Benjen to Winterfell has turned Bran into an old man. While I know he is the three-eyed raven now, he seems nothing like the Bran of even last season. I suppose the last time we saw him he was discovering Jon’s true parentage (which he even hints at when he says he needs to speak with Jon!!!) but who knows what else he’s seen since then. It’s completely possible that it has changed him OR that the writers no longer care about consistency and just need the characters as a means to an end. Sansa brings up the fact that Bran is technically Lord of Winterfell, but Bran let’s her know that he can’t be because he’s the three-eyed raven and can literally do whatever it was Littlefinger was talking about. Sansa is confused and rightfully so - Bran keeps telling her it’s hard to explain when it really isn’t, and it’s interesting again to see siblings reunite and clearly be so much different than the last time they saw each other. There was only one moment I didn’t appreciate during their reunion - in order to demonstrate how he can see everything, Bran brings up Sansa’s wedding to Ramsay. He brings it up under the guise of being sorry, but it felt more like he was bringing up her trauma to prove a point, which no.
Down in Oldtown it looks like Sam has cured Jorah, or at least made the grayscale dormant. Archmaester Ebrose examines him and he and Sam try to act like it was a miracle, which was pretty weak but funny. I still feel like we need a second opinion before we let Jorah loose on the world and potentially infect all of Westeros, and I’m a little annoyed that this means we’re getting more of him but whatever. Like Ebrose, I’m also curious how Sam was able to cure him when other maesters were not - he says he just read the book but even the person who wrote the book failed at getting rid of the grayscale and contracted it himself so I’m not sure what to believe. Ebrose scolds Sam in a very Dumbledore way and I almost expected him to award 100 points to Ravenclaw, but instead Sam got detention and has to copy damaged books, which may come in useful later. I do wish we could get more of the Citadel, but I have my priorities together and know that when the Night King comes he’s not going to care about how much I like books and magic and Hogwarts-like institutions. CONSTANT VIGILANCE.
We finally get to see Casterly Rock! Tyrion narrates their plan to take the Lannister keep from Dragonstone and it’s intercut with the scenes of the Unsullied taking over. I had a small issue in that Casterly Rock doesn’t look much like the book version, which was literally a large cliff hollowed out to make room for people. It wasn’t a huge deal but it did make the castle seem less impressive in my eyes. Still, because of Tyrion’s work in the sewers as a kid, the Unsullied are able to sneak into the castle and take it. However, the castle wasn’t manned with as many Lannister men as expected and it becomes clear that it was a trap as Euron comes up from behind and burns all of their ships, stranding them there. What seemed like a great plan last episode is blowing up in Dany’s face.
I didn’t think we were going to get Highgarden in this episode at all and so that was a nice surprise even though it too wasn’t what I expected it to be. While the Unsullied are walking into a trap at Casterly Rock, Jaime is on the march with the rest of the Lannister men, the Tarlys, and Bronn. The Lannisters cut through the Tyrell army and Jaime goes to Olenna in her chambers. She is clearly resigned to her fate and knew she would lose the minute the Lannisters arrived, but at this point we all knew she was for a good time not a long time after the destruction of the Sept of Baelor.
Before Olenna dies, she and Jaime talk and the conversation turns to Joffrey. The moment his name came up I knew the Queen of Thornes was going to go out like a G. Olenna lets Jaime know how dangerous Cersei is, and though it’s clear it’s too late for Jaime to change now, the conversation seemed to hint at both his and Cersei’s approaching doom. Jaime poisons Olenna’s wine and after he clarifies that it won’t be a painful death, she drinks it with no hesitation. She then immediately confesses to killing Joffrey, cementing herself as the GOAT and giving us one of the more satisfying deaths in the show. I’m interested to see how this changes Jaime and Cersei’s feelings about Tyrion, though they may not change much since he actually factually killed their father.
Overall, I think this season is doing well with hitting all of its plot points, but it kind of feels like that’s all it’s doing. A lot happened in this episode and while that’s true of a lot of Game of Thrones episodes, it mainly feels like the pacing is too fast. Maybe it’s a budget thing, but there have already been three battles in the past two episodes and we barely saw them. While I’m not necessarily advocating for more gore in an already extremely violent show, it does feel like things are being rushed. I know we are only on the third episode but so far it feels like this season could have been a ten-episode season just fine. We haven’t gotten any moments to catch our breath, or to get more development from characters like Theon, the Brotherhood Without Banners, the Sand Snakes, Bran, or even Euron. So far it feels like they could have used those extra three episodes to do more with the story.
Also, where is Ghost???