I was seriously naïve enough to believe that last week’s episode would be a one-off show of Cersei’s immense power, before leveling the playing field again this week in ‘The Queen’s Justice’. I was very, very wrong.
Daenerys had a fleet of Ironborn, an Unsullied army, a Dothraki horde, three dragons, and alliances with the Tyrells and Sands. But now it is becoming all too clear that Cersei has the wits and cunning to topple Daenerys’ most powerful allies, leaving her open and vulnerable.
There is no dancing around the topic of conversation here – we are launched straight into Dragonstone where Daenerys has made herself very comfortable on top of the throne, ready to meet Jon Snow.
After a warm reunion with Tyrion and a harsh welcome by the dragons, Jon and Dany’s first encounter is finally underway. It isn’t exactly as smooth as we would have hoped. Jon refuses to swear fealty, with his eyes set on the much greater issue of defeating the Night King. Dany is just as single-minded, denying Jon any assistance until he bends the knee. For now it seems they are at an impasse, with neither side budging to accommodate the other.
Meanwhile, Melisandre and Varys reflect on the current events atop the castle. The Red Priestess is withdrawing from the spotlight, deciding that her role in the prophecy is truly finished. She has conveyed it to those who matter, and it is time to see the events unfold as they were planned.
I’ve done my part. I’ve brought ice and fire together.
A little later on, Jon and Tyrion bond over their shared hobby of brooding and looking solemnly into the distance. Tyrion is realising that Jon and Dany are not going anywhere without some sort of mediation between them, and through his uncanny charisma and ability to empathise he manages to find a sort of compromise. He encourages Dany to let Jon mine the Dragonglass that Dragonstone sits upon, in the hope that this will boost favour between the two parties and sow the seeds of an alliance.
Indeed, it appears that Tyrion’s role in this war is as the mediator for the rebels. Both Dany and Jon have vastly differing goals, and yet both have something the other needs. Tyrion is proving to be the key in helping both individuals achieve their destinies.
The Narrow Sea
A glimpse into Theon’s story this week shows that life isn’t getting any easier for him. The remaining Ironborn who had fled the Iron Islands with him and survived Euron’s attack pull him from the water. To summarise their general attitude towards Theon right now, it would be something along the lines of “We’re not mad, we’re just disappointed”. Theon’s betrayal of Yara goes against everything the Ironborn believe in, so it isn’t likely he will be able to redeem himself in their eyes after this.
While Theon is wallowing in his shattered self-esteem, good old uncle Euron is soaking up the praise and glory of the people upon his return to King’s Landing. He is pretty proud of himself right now – with Yara, Ellaria and her daughter, Tyene, chained up and ready to present to Queen Cersei, he is on the verge of receiving his end of the deal.
I give you what no other man could give. Justice. Justice for your murdered daughter.
In the dungeon, Cersei properly confronts Ellaria for the first time since Myrcella’s death. On one hand, she is surprisingly understanding of Ellaria’s desire for vengeance; unsurprisingly, her own desire for vengeance overrides every other possible outcome.
The Long Farewell was the poison used by Ellaria Sand to kill Myrcella, and so it is now poetically being used by Cersei to kill Ellaria’s own daughter. In an unfortunate twist of fate, Ellaria is not sentenced to death – instead, her sentence is to watch her own daughter die and decompose into the earth. This is certainly the last we have seen of the Sand Snakes, but Ellaria’s own story is left a little open-ended for possible future returns.
The awkwardness between Cersei and Jaime prevails through their attempt at rekindling the flame between them. It is obvious their relationship isn’t the same as it used to be, but all of this is pushed aside when they are interrupted by the arrival of Tycho Nestoris – the debt collector for the Iron Bank of Braavos.
His visit has two reasons. Firstly, to settle the Crown’s severe debt; secondly, he wants to assess which side of the war is a greater investment for the bank. Cersei has him convinced on both fronts – she seems pretty confident that the Crown will come into a large sum of money soon enough. How? Well, the answer certainly becomes clear before the hour is up.
Sansa’s rule over Winterfell is going just fine for now, not taking into consideration that rat who is still hanging around. Littlefinger’s motives have never been very apparent, but he does let on a little as to what goes on inside his head.
Fight every battle everywhere, always in your mind. Everyone is your enemy, everyone is your friend… Live that way and nothing will surprise you.
Sansa is trying her best to resist his tempting words, but there is something in what he is saying that captures her interest. If Jon stays out of Winterfell for long enough, she may grow to trust Littlefinger’s brand of wisdom over time.
Right at this moment an unexpected visitor shows up at the gates of Winterfell, and we are treated to the first Stark reunion of the season!
Was it what we were expecting? Not quite. Bran’s emotional distance is probably intended to appear as mystical and wise, but his idea of proving his powers as the Three Eyed Raven involves reminding Sansa of one of the most traumatising moments of her life. This just seems unnecessarily cruel. Hopefully Bran proves to be more than just a pretentious psychic within the next few episodes and finds his place in the current events.
Against all odds, it looks as if Sam really has cured Jorah’s Greyscale. The exiled knight is finally back in the game and is keen to rejoin Daenerys team with a renewed sense of purpose. There isn’t much he can really offer her right now, but considering how badly she is losing the war right now she will need all the support she can get.
As for Sam, he merely receives some light scolding and is sent back to the menial handiwork that has become his daily life. Even though he essentially rediscovered the cure for Greyscale, he risked the health and welfare of the entire Citadel in doing so. His reward? Not being expelled.
If there is one thing that Game of Thrones does wonderfully, it is its ever engaging and innovative battle scenes. Rarely do they devolve into a woeful mess of fast-paced camera shots (as many actions movies are guilty of), but instead the GoT directors endow them with the detail and pacing worthy of a cinema screen.
In our first ever look at Casterly Rock, we see the Unsullied launch their attack on the castle as Tyrion narrates the plan in a way that proves yet again why we consider him the smoothest talker in Westeros.
Tyrion’s inside knowledge of Casterly Rock’s secret entrances is a huge advantage for the Unsullied, and their victory comes easily. Almost… too easily.
There are much fewer Lannister soldiers guarding the castle than expected. So if they’re not here, where did they all go?
Randyll Tarly’s decision between the Crown and the Tyrells is revealed. The Lannister army marches south to Highgarden, and they successfully conquer the domain of the second wealthiest family in Westeros. With total control of Highgarden, Cersei has claimed the money needed to repay the Iron Bank and is simultaneously proving herself to be a worthy asset.
Sitting in a high tower of the castle, Olenna Tyrell watches despairingly as the Lannisters take everything that was once hers. Jaime meets one on one with her to respectfully give her the peaceful death that he believes she deserves. Downing a goblet of poisoned wine intended to deliver a painless end, Olenna reflects on Joffrey’s own tortured death.
In her final moments, Olenna goes out with a stylistic combination of wit and grace. Her greatest contribution to Westeros was ridding it of Joffrey, and this is exactly how she wants to be remembered by her enemies.
Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me.
How is Daenerys losing this badly?? At the end of last season it looked like her road to the Iron Throne was clear. Now with the Greyjoy fleet mostly destroyed, the Sands imprisoned or dead, and the Tyrells extinct, her alliance with the North needs to come sooner rather than later. Sure, she succeeded in taking over Casterly Rock, but it is a hollow victory over a seat that is now deemed worthless.
If Dany doesn’t regain ground soon then this could end badly for her. Keep in mind though that it is only a matter of time before Jon discovers his true heritage, and this has the potential to change the game completely for absolutely everyone.
What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments below!