Hello, hello, all ye gentlefolk.
Welcome back to Recap the Realm, the weekly post where we scream about Game of Thrones and try (and fail) to not bring up the books a dozen times.
So grab a glass (check it for poison first!) and pull up a seat. It’s time to dive in.
Lord MWB: This week was a monumental one with lots of goings on and what-have-yous. Cersei is surprisingly competent, Tyrion is surprisingly incompetent, Bran has a stinky old wizard brain, and Jon Snow is…Jon Snow. Hope you’re prepared to read 8,000 words cus guys, we just can’t help ourselves! (Ed. Note: This is about 3,000 words. Hyperbole!)
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We start at Dragonstone where everyone on the internet assures me a meeting I’ve been looking forward to for yeeeeeeears is going to take place. Don’t get me wrong, Jon and Dany meeting is super monumental and I recognize the narrative importance of it, but…fuck them. I was way more interested in Jon and Tyrion getting back together. And they did not disappoint!
Tyrion is his typical chatty self, crackin’ wise and making Jon uncomfortable by talking about boning Sansa (or not doing that, as it were) and Jon just stands there looking at him with his mouth open like he’s Bella Swan doing some really intense LARPing. Jon is the perfect straight man to Tyrion’s jester, and I wish it was just the two of them hanging out for the rest of the series. I ship them, and FUCK YOU ALL FOR JUDGING ME. And do you know what their ship name is? Tyrion. It works perfectly and you can’t tell me otherwise!
And then Jon and Dany meet. Ima let Nikkie handle the bulk of the talking about this because, I’m sorry, but I kind of low-key dislike both of the show’s ostensible leads. They’re just so…dull. Part of this, I’m sure, is my general contrarian nature, but at the same time, the show spends a lot of time building them up as the destined heroes in a world where we’ve been shown that things like “destined heroes” are crap.
The other problem is that the show is now very constrained by budget and time, so they don’t have a lot of breathing room. Most of what makes Jon and Dany into rulers is the writers frequently yelling at us that they’re super great and then making all the other characters talk about how great they are. But really, Dany is super entitled and never shuts up about how the Iron Throne is hers by rights (which kind of goes against her whole “break the wheel” philosophy) and Jon is just…really really bad at diplomacy. I’m glad he realized how stupid he sounded after Tyrion broods with him later at least, but if it weren’t for Davos, Dany probably would have killed him.
As for Dany, I get why she expects Jon to bend the knee, but she didn’t really present her case very well. She tells Jon to honor the vows of his ancestors, and then when Jon brings up the fact that her grandpa burned his and his uncle to death, she’s like, “Yeah well, that wasn’t me, that was my ancestors.” Expecting loyalty while distancing yourself from the sins committed by your ancestors—isn’t that the very definition of white privilege? I see you, Dany!
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Back in Winterfell, we see Sansa ruling and it’s…disappointing to me. I want Sansa to be smart, and I love that she is smart, but why did NO ONE ELSE seem to think about the fact that they were going to need food for more than a year? How did no one else come up with Sansa’s very basic plan of collecting food from the other houses’ larders when that is the literal definition of a fiefdom? How did no one else think “Oh, better insulate our armor with leather ‘cus winter’s cold af.” Not like they’ve been dealing with THAT EXACT THING for the past, I dunno, all of recorded history. Sansa should be smart, but not because the writers force everyone else around her to be stupid. Because then it just seems like they don’t know how to write her as actually competent. Get it together, people! Sansa is fierce, and you’re blunting her fierceness.
Littlefinger continues to be the worst, and he gives Sansa a brief lesson in metaphysical thinking. I could feel Sansa rolling her eyes during the whole thing. If this were the real world, Littlefinger would be a creepy philosophy professor who invites all his female students to his apartment for a “party.” At least Sansa’s not having any of his shit ‘cus none of us are either! I have a theory about Littlefinger and his inevitable demise, but I’ll get to in a little bit.
First: Stark reunion 2.0!! This (and any other Stark reunions we may be getting) are basically the entire reason I watch the show. That’s a lie, but barely. I love the Starks, and I want them to be together again, and oh my god I almost cried! Nikkie and I had a brief freakout when we thought it might be Arya at the gates, but we also knew that was unlikely; Bran was in the “previously on” section after all. Still, it was great to see Sansa’s reaction. Sophie Turner knocked it out of the park and I really felt her happiness, even if Bran had none.
Now I know I’m in the minority on this, but Bran’s is my favorite story. It’s not portrayed overly well in the show, but I still love it. Yes, Dany has dragons, but Bran has the biggest connection to magic out of any character in the story. He’s such an anomaly in the world, and he’s so much more powerful than everyone else that he’s basically no longer human, as we saw in his emotional deadness this episode. It’s very interesting because if someone were to become an omniscient wizard, you’d have to expect there would be consequences. It wouldn’t be like Harry Potter where everyone’s pretty normal despite being able to rearrange the universe; that shit would mess you up. So it’s cool to see Bran going all Dr. Manhattan.
And you know what, I just like wizards, okay? I like Bran because he’s literally the only wizard in the story (the Undying don’t count). So get off my back, SAM. Magic is cool, and Bran becoming Professor X is cool, and you won’t convince me otherwise! (Note: Sam is someone Nikkie works with who has not yet accepted Bran as her tree lord and savior. She will see the light.)
I will concede that it was super weird that Sansa’s rape was like the first thing he brought up. I get that you’re dead inside Bran, but geez.
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We all expected Ellaria’s daughter to die this episode but daaaaaaaaaaamn was it particularly cruel. Forcing Ellaria to stay alive to watch her daughter die and decompose is just…exquisitely cruel. And as much of a drag as Ellaria and the Sand Snakes have been, man did they act the hell out of this scene. Indira Varma has been criminally underused, but the way she sold the pain with her eyes was just masterful. And that last shot of the two of them struggling against their chains, trying to reach each other… Jayzus.
I do wonder who’s ruling in Dorne now. It kinda seems like the country was made up entirely of Ellaria and the Sand Snakes. Have we even seen any Dornish soldiers with Dany yet?
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The two sieges were very brief, which I actually really liked. In other seasons, either of those battles could have taken entire episodes, but it seems right that they were mostly off screen. We’ve never seen Highgarden or Casterly Rock, and it really shows how easily played Dany was in this whole thing and how in control Cersei is. Tyrion made a huge mistake underestimating Cersei. He’s been surprisingly incompetent this season. Here’s hoping Grey Worm doesn’t die!
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Sam’s story was brief. Fun because Grand Maester Slughorn is a hoot and I like how he anti-Dumbledore’d Sam there at the end: “You broke the rules, dude. Why would you get rewarded for that?” Yeah, I’m sure there’s probably some sort of major information in those scrolls Sam’s about to copy, but I don’t think it’s on purpose if there is. More importantly though, the camera really gave us a nice, long look at Jorah rubbing his greasy, previously infected hand all over Sam’s hand. So… Is Sam about to cause a Greyscale outbreak at the Citadel? Don’t take Sam from us, you cruel bastards!
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So I’ve rambled on long enough, and I’ll let Nikkie pick up whatever I missed, but first I gotta lay down some theory on you. I was trying to do some sleuthing from the preview for the next episode because we get a very clear shot of someone holding Littlefinger’s Valyrian steel dagger, and I didn’t recognize the clothes. It was a quick shot of a grey sleeve with some sort of yellow undershirt. Later, we see a close up of Littlefinger’s face, and he seems to be wearing a grey tunic with some sort of yellow undershirt. He was taking about fighting all battles at once right before Bran shows up…the only character who literally CAN see all possibilities at once. And Littlefinger seemed a bit nervous when the maester mentioned having copies of all the letters Winterfell has ever received. And then we get a shot of Sansa lookin all put upon.
So here’s what I’m thinkin: Bran reveals to Littlefinger that he’s the Three-Eyed Raven and that he knows it’s Littlefinger who set everything into motion and caused the death of Ned. Littlefinger plans to kill Bran with his dagger (the same dagger that was originally going to be used to kill him all the way back in Season 1), but he’s stopped and killed. Now I don’t know how he’ll be killed, but if you’ll let me write some fan-fiction real quick, we do see a quick glimpse of Arya looking at Winterfell in the preview, and we know she gets her hands on that dagger this season. So what if Arya shows up and murders the ever-loving SHIT out of Littlefinger?! I want it so bad. I WANT IT SO BAD.
(Ed. Note: SH would like it to be known that he came up with this theory before other places on the internet wrote about it, and that it would’ve been clearer had Nikkie not taken her sweet time writing her section.)
Anyway…take it away Nikkie!
Lady MWB: Wowzers. That was a lot. And now here’s more.
I HAVE to start at the end. Y’all. Even while she’s dying, Lady Olenna Tyrell drops a mic like no other. I swear to God, this woman was the OG Thrower of Shade, and I want to go out giving half as big a middle finger to my enemies as she did. I mean, WOW. Not only did she chug that poisoned wine like a boss, but she used her last moments on Earth to let Jaime know 1) she knows Joffrey was an incest baby and 2) she orchestrated his murder. ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME. Has anyone ever died with that amount of pettiness and shade? The only thing that could’ve made it better would have been if she had died literally the second after she said “I want her to know it was me.” Because I would have 100 percent believed that she was so in control that she could’ve felt when she was about to die and timed her reveal perfectly.
All hail Lady Olenna Tyrell of Highgarden, the Queen of Thrones, the Grandmother of Shade, and the Number One Woman to See Through Your Bullshit. May she rest in peace.
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Beyond that, the scene with Cersei, Ellaria, and Tyene really got to me as well. I’d assumed that Cersei was going to kill Tyene before doing anything to Ellaria, but to keep her alive so that she’s forced to watch (and smell) her daughter die and decompose is SO MUCH WORSE than I had imagined. That is some master-class revenge right there. As much as I hate Cersei and think she’s not as impressive as she wants people to think she is, I really have to hand it to her. She wanted to fuck up Ellaria, and she accomplished that goal ten times over.
A lot of people seem to be glossing over the idea that Ellaria will be watching Tyene decompose for the rest of her own life. Y’all. That’s brutal af. Even if Ellaria could have soothed herself with dreams of Tyene as she had been, she’d wake to see her rotting corpse mere feet away. That’s going to mess her up. I imagine that Ellaria’s going to try and bash her own skull in against the wall at some point so she doesn’t have to see that. What an ending to the Sand Snakes/Dorne story. It was definitely one of (if not the) weakest story of the show, but they for sure went out with a bang.
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I don’t know why SH has given me the responsibility of talking about Jon and Dany meeting, as it’s not like I was super looking forward to it either. Although I’ll gladly take any excuse to see Kit Harington on my screen more! But here we are.
I can understand why some people feel that Dany was a little bit of a brat when it comes to her reaction to Jon not bending the knee. But I think something else might have been at play here. While it’s obvious that neither Dany nor Jon really knows how this kind of diplomatic meeting is supposed to go, when looking back, I got the feeling that maybe they were feeling each other out. Their family names may carry weight, sure, but who are these people, really? What kind of leaders are they? The only way to find out is to go in hard.
Think of it this way. Dany has been told for so long that people have been waiting for the return of a Targaryen so that they can go back to the old way of things. But how true is that? The Dornish and Tyrells came to her out of revenge, not out of any loyalty to her. So here is Jon, representing a region that had long been loyal to the realm and only recently rebelled against the throne, and she wants to see if it would really be as simple as saying “I’m back. Swear fealty.” She found it wasn’t, no matter how hard she pressed. Jon, on the other hand, really doesn’t care about the Iron Throne at all. His entire focus is dealing with the threat of the White Walkers. But as the chosen King of the North, he knows he can’t just bend the knee without at least talking to his subjects first. Not without giving them a really good reason for doing so. Thus, he has to stand his ground about keeping his “throne” until Dany can give him a good reason for giving it up.
I feel like Tyrion’s pointed “How can I help you?” ask while they were brooding corroborates this. I don’t think he’d go talk to Jon without talking to Dany first, so it seems likely that they would have said “Okay, now that we know he’s not amenable to the ‘It’s my birthright and you guys promised’ argument, how can we start working toward a compromise?” But Dany can’t look like she’s ready to just roll over either. This has to be a bit of a struggle so that each party can maintain their dignity and the loyalty they have to their separate causes.
So all that to say . . . I’m not that bothered by how poorly things turned out. I think there’s a chance for them to come to more of an understanding. That being said . . .
WHY THE HELL ISN’T JON TELLING PEOPLE HE DIED?! Fucking hell, dude. You’re talking to a woman who actively survived raging infernos of fire TWICE. She effectively birthed the only known dragons in this world. She went on a spirit quest where she saw her dead husband and son. I THINK SHE MIGHT BE AMENABLE TO THE NEWS THAT YOU WERE RESURRECTED!! Especially considering his body is literal proof; just lift up your tunic and show off all those gnarly, unhealed wounds all over your body. No one can deny that.
A tangent off this: WHY THE HELL DIDN’T HE BRING GHOST?!?! Much like no one in the world has dragons, pretty much no one has freakin’ direwolves as pets. Status symbol, much? Bring the other half of your soul with you, you damned idiot.
I know there are myriad issues with this (the wolf-dog they used to portray Ghost died and the CGI is costly) but stillllll. I’ll never get over how underused the direwolves are in the show. They’re so important in the books, and it’s a real disappointment that that’s not being translated to the small screen.
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Honestly, I think we’ve covered all the important parts of the episode! I’m still disappointed that Jaime hasn’t gotten off that Cersei shit yet. I’m wondering if there’s going to be any fall-out from Cersei’s handmaiden seeing the two of them post-coitally. According to online nerds, taking their kids out of the equations, the Lannister twins are actually the ones with the right to the throne based on the fact that way back when, a Baratheon married a Lannister. So with Robert gone and most of the Lannisters gone, Cersei and Jaime are the rightful heirs. More so Jaime being the man, but that’s neither here nor there. My point is that if someone took the time to look at lineage and rights in an attempt to disqualify Cersei because her children were products of incest, they would be SOL because she’s actually eligible on her own.
I really hope Littlefinger is close to dying soon, and I feel like I’m the only one who doesn’t want one of Dany’s dragons to get a crossbow bolt in the eye. I’m super excited that Arya is closing in on Winterfell, and I hope that Bran gets out of his time haze soon enough to at least enjoy that. Also, when is he getting his wheelchair? Also, we’ve only got four episodes left. Jon’s gotta head back north soon . . . unless all the footage we’ve seen of him beyond the Wall is the season finale?! Oh my God. I just broke my own mind. I hope that’s not the case haha.
That’s it for this post! We’ll see you next week after what will be the shortest episode of the season (50 minutes).
May your clapbacks ring half as loud as Lady Olenna’s,
Lord and Lady MWB
Photo Credit: Uproxx