George R.R. Martin’s saga is called A Song of Ice and Fire and all the pieces of evidence in the books point to two of its biggest character, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, as the personification of Ice and Fire, respectively. We know their arcs will have to cross one way or another. And here it is. Fans have waited so long for this moment (that’s twenty years for the books’ followers!!!) so it’s really quite a surreal experience to finally see it unfolding before our eyes: Jon and Dany in the same room. Jon and Dany sizing each other up. Jon and Dany talking. Jon and Dany possibly forming the most powerful partnership this side of the Narrow Sea – the frickin’ Song of Ice and Fire, baby! Everything they’ve been through has been building up to this moment. My excitement is off the charts!
Jon and Dany didn’t have the monopoly of this episode, however. It was pretty packed with significant scenes from beginning to end: queens meted out their versions of justice (hence the title The Queen’s Justice), soldiers invaded castles, family members got reunited, promises were fulfilled, and people were killed. My only problem is that D&D have muddled up the timelines in their hurry to reach the ending. I mean, Euron’s ship can travel that fast??? Don’t hurry too much D&D! I don’t know what I’ll do when this show ends! >.<
Ice vs. Fire
Jon and Davos finally make it to the shores of Dragonstone where he is welcomed by Tyrion, Missandei, and a group of serious-looking Dothraki guards. Jon and Tyrion last saw each other in Season 1 when Jon was a fresh recruit at the Wall and Tyrion was more obsessed with whoring and pissing off the edge of the world. Their time apart did not make them forget their respect for one another. Still, they are moving in different circles now and it becomes apparent when Missandei asks the visitors to hand over their weapons. Jon and Davos reluctantly agrees. The long walk to the castle gives enough time for Tyrion and Jon to catch up with each other’s lives. Along the way, they encounter Daenerys’ dragons flying overhead. Tyrion helps an obviously shocked Jon to his feet. Dragons! In Westeros! Jon’s look is priceless.
Far above in the cliffs, old woman-in-disguise Melisandre stares at the visitors. Varys who always had a talent for creeping up behind people shows up to interrupt her musings and to tell her to go away. We all know Varys is not too fond with religious fanatics, particularly the fire worshippers of the Lord of Light because they were the ones responsible for cutting off his man parts. But Melisandre is not someone who gets easily intimidated. She replies with a mysterious smile and an even more mysterious pronouncement, “I will return dear spider. One last time. I have to die in this strange country, just like you.” What does this mean? The future does not bode well for the two of them, that’s for sure.
Let’s get back to Jon who finally arrives in the great hall of Dragonstone. Introductions are often awkward, and theirs is no exception. Missandei lists all of Daenerys’ titles – rightful heir to the Iron Throne, rightful Queen of the Andals and the First Men, protector of the Seven Kingdoms, the Mother of Dragons, the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, the Breaker of Chains – and Davos replies with a flimsy “This is Jon Snow. (pause – he realizes he need to say something more) He’s the King in the North.” Their epic encounter is off to an icy start when Davos points out that Daenerys should have addressed Jon as “Your Grace,” in reference to his new position as King in the North. Daenerys reminds Davos and Jon, though, that House Stark swore loyalty and subservience to House Targaryen in perpetuity to which Jon countered that it was the Targaryens who first broke faith with his house when her father burned his grandfather and uncle alive.
Daenerys has had enough of pleasantries soon enough. She commands Jon to bend the knee and fight for her against Cersei’s forces. Jon naturally declines the offer and explains the reason for his visit instead. The White Walkers are coming for them all and he believes that Daenerys’ dragons and her army would be put to better use in fighting the undead invaders. However, even with the help of Davos’ more polished rhetoric, she remains unmoved by his warnings and pleas for help.
Their initial impressions of each other are not as good as Tyrion hoped it would be. To Jon, Daenerys is a clueless foreigner with a tainted name trying to join in the silly little games of the lords and ladies of Westeros. To Daenerys, Jon is a clueless little boy spouting nonsense about White Walkers and the Night King. Both are headstrong and uncompromising in their purpose. The adversities they both faced have made them so. These traits can propel them to achieve anything they want, but these are also the same traits that prevent them from working together… at least, for now.
I don’t know if it’s just me but it does seem like the start of a great love story in the making. You know that rom-com trope where the lovers initially hate each other but they eventually realize they’re meant to be? That’s kind of them right now. The biggest obstacle to their pairing is the fact that Jon is her nephew (I’m saying this as a fact because it is!). Jon’s Targaryen blood gives him a better claim to the Iron Throne than Daenerys. This, I think, is a much bigger problem than incest in the event that they do hook up (yes, my morals have become loose because of this show). Daenerys did not spend years enduring hardships and building up her army to just drop out of the race because the “real heir” came along. If there’s any consolation for her, it’s the fact that Jon has no real interest in ruling and would prefer to stay in the north and care for his people there.
The meeting ended without one of them giving in to the other. Daenerys has the upper hand, though, because she is on her turf. She takes Jon’s ship and forces him to “spend the next few nights” at Dragonstone.
Euron and his men return triumphantly to King’s Landing with his prized booties in chains: his niece Yara Greyjoy, Ellaria Sand, and the only remaining Sand Snake, Tyene Sand. The townspeople welcome him cheerfully like a hero which delights and arouses him.
At the throne room, Euron reveals his gift to the queen: justice. He presents to her a defiant Ellaria Sand, who is responsible for killing off her daughter, Myrcella, which she gladly accepts. Feeling emboldened by his good standing, Euron hints again at the possibility of marriage but Cersei rebuffs him and tells him that he won’t get the full payment till the war is over. Euron may be mad but he is a patient man and so he accepts Cersei’s rejection lightly. This is what makes him better than Joffrey or Ramsay – he’s not a psychotic sadist. His violence has a purpose, a plan. He doesn’t go rampaging blindly against others who oppose him. Like a snake, he patiently waits for his time to strike.
For the meantime, he continues to infuriate Jaime with his offhand jokes: “Does she like it gentle or rough? A finger in the bum?” Come to think of it, Jaime used to act like Euron towards those he perceived as his enemies, specifically the grim Starks. Remember how Jaime always tried to rile up Ned Stark? When he was held captive by the Stark camp, he kept making sarcastic comments and nasty jokes to Robb. He even made an indecent proposal to the recently widowed Catelyn Stark. How times have changed. Now he’s in the receiving end of those kinds of japes. What goes around comes around, indeed.
Meanwhile, Cersei wastes no time in exacting her revenge. She locks up the Sands in the dungeon and confronts Ellaria for the murder of her daughter. After mentioning her many options on how she’ll get her vengeance, she eventually ends up with the time-tested “an eye for an eye” method. Cersei gives the same poison Ellaria used on Myrcella to Tyene. She inflicts on Ellaria the worst kind of pain a mother could feel – that of seeing your child suffer and die horribly. She says, “Your daughter will die here in this cell and you’ll be here watching when she does. You’ll be here the rest of your days. If you refuse to eat, we’ll force food down your throat. You will live to watch your daughter rot. To watch that beautiful face collapse to bone and dust. All the while contemplating the choice you made.”
With her newfound power, Cersei feels like no one could touch her anymore. She even lets her servant see her naked with Jaime. “I’m the queen of the Seven Kingdoms, I’ll do as I please” perfectly sums up her current motto. Her confidence is peaking so much so that in her meeting with Tycho Nestoris of the Iron Bank of Braavos, she assures him that all her debts will be repaid in a fortnight.
Sansa is indeed starting to “let on.” She is doing well at her job in managing the operations at Winterfell while Jon is away. As usual, Littlefinger whispers unsolicited advice to Sansa’s ear but she stands her ground and keeps him at a good distance.
I thought it will be Arya and Sansa who will be reunited in this episode but it turns out that it is Bran who’ll return home to Winterfell first. The look on Sansa’s face when she finally saw her long lost brother convinced me that she is not Cersei 2.0. She is more than happy to make him Lord of Winterfell but Bran dismisses this and tells her that he can never be lord of anything because he is now the Three-Eyed Raven.
To say that Bran has changed is an understatement.His exposure to the Three-Eyed Raven has somewhat sapped Bran of his humanity. He’s like the annoying college kid who starts spouting all these incomprehensible ideas at home after a semester of studying philosophy and smoking weed. When Sansa tries to talk to him, he brings up her wedding night with Ramsay Bolton. I’m like, Bran! Really?!? Of all the things you could’ve told her, you remind her of her most traumatic experience??? Will Scumbag Bran be a meme? Stark reunions should be happy events but you ruined it, Bran! I hope Arya and Sansa’s reunion will be better than this.
Another man who is on his way home is the newly-healed Jorah Mormont. By home I mean at the side of Daenerys Targaryen, his one true love. Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without Sam Tarly’s stubbornness and capacity to follow what is written in the books. The Archmaester lauds Sam’s effort but he also reminds him that what he did is in clear violation of the Citadel’s rules. The fact that he is not expelled is the reward in itself. Anyway, If Jorah is indeed headed for Dragonstone, then he will definitely meet Sam’s best friend, Jon. Will Jorah repay his debt to Sam by helping Jon?
Tyrion is put into a tight spot when their fleet got decimated by the rogue Greyjoy Euron. He goes off to the cliff to brood about this defeat when he chances upon Jon Snow who is also brooding about the fact that he is stuck on the island as Daenerys’ “guest,” a euphemism for “‘prisoner.” The past two episodes have not allowed Tyrion to speak that much so I found it really refreshing to see him making witty quips again. He says to Jon, “I came down here to brood over my failure to predict the Greyjoy attack. You’re making it difficult. You look a lot better brooding than I do. You make me feel I’m failing at brooding over failure.” Tyrion eventually takes pity on Jon and offers to help him accomplish at least one of the things he planned when he visited Dragonstone, and that is to mine dragonglass.
You would think that someone who birthed dragons, who was exposed to the dark magic of the sorcerer at Qarth, and who is immune to fire will be more receptive to the idea of the Night King and his army of the dead. Yet, Daenerys remains lukewarm about the White Walkers and the threat they pose to the kingdoms. Tyrion tells her that he does not want to believe in White Walkers either, but allowing Jon to mine some of the dragonglass for his cause could possibly win him over to their own. Daenerys follows Tyrion’s advice and informs Jon Snow that he can get all the dragonglass he wants. Jon is still determined not to bend the knee but we don’t know how long this will last especially now that he owes a debt to Daenerys and he may have to find a way to repay it sooner or later.
Daenerys needs allies now more than ever with her fleet decimated and two of the houses that declared for her eliminated. There is still one more plan in motion, Tyrion reminds her, and it is the siege of Casterly Rock. Tyrion has sent the Unsullied to take his family home away from his brother and sister’s control. It will allow them to humiliate the ruling family and access its riches in one precise move. Using his knowledge of the castle’s drains and sewers, Tyrion instructed the Unsullied to use a secret passageway he made for his whores (hoe-door, the Internet calls it) to infiltrate Casterly Rock.
The Unsullied got Tyrion’s instructions down pat… yet something is amiss. Grey Worm feels it too; everything was just too easy. Too bad he and his men already killed all of the Lannister forces inside so they have no way of knowing what’s going on. They only get a sense that it is indeed a trap when they see Euron Greyjoy’s magical Iron Fleet taking their ships and surrounding the castle. How Euron managed to steer his fleet from King’s Landing in the east all the way round to Casterly Rock in the west at a moment’s notice is beyond me. Look, the Unsullied’s journey from Dragonstone to Casterly Rock took about two episodes. Euron does it in a span of thirty minutes!
Unless… well, if you’re quite familiar with the map of Westeros, the Iron Islands is situated a few miles north of Casterly Rock and in the world of Game of Thrones, this means they are basically neighbors. Euron may have left some of his crew back in the Iron Islands to guard the Salt Throne in his absence. It is possible that he mobilized them to launch a surprise attack on the Unsullied soldiers. Regardless of whether he was there to lead the attack or not, Euron scores another huge victory for Cersei. He has cut off access to the Unsullied soldiers, costing Daenerys a good chunk of her army.
What Tyrion didn’t foresee is how his siblings knew him well. They are aware that he’ll target Casterly Rock, not only because it is their family’s seat of power, but also because Tyrion has been lusting over it since the beginning. Technically, he should have been the rightful heir to Casterly Rock but his late father Tywin refused to give him that honor out of spite. Tyrion’s revenge on his family fails because he underestimated Cersei and her team. And if getting soundly outsmarted wasn’t enough, Casterly Rock’s gold mines have also dried up which means he has wasted valuable resources on nothing.
Using the tactic he learned from the Battle of the Whispering Wood against Robb Stark, Jaime diverts the bulk of his limited forces to take Highgarden from the Tyrells. It didn’t take Jaime long to make them surrender. The Tyrells are more farmers than fighters, and with the Tarlys siding with the crown, their defeat was inevitable. I’m just wondering where the rest of the Tyrells’ bannermen are. Did they try to defend them? Or did they keep quiet while House Tyrell is being besieged? Well, betrayal is nothing new in Game of Thrones. Many bannermen have abandoned their oaths to their liege lord to take the winning side. Tarly and the rest of the noble houses in the Reach are no exceptions.
This new development will not be good for Tyrion who have enjoyed the complete trust of Daenerys so far. His clever plans are failing. Will Daenerys finally discard her magnanimous mother image and finally be the dragon that Lady Olenna wants her to be?
The Queen of Thorns
Hands down, Lady Olenna is one of the best characters in the show. What she lacked in physical strength she more than made up for with her sharp tongue and scheming mind. The Tyrells’ defeat at the hands of the Lannisters meant she has to die. There are just too many queens battling it out and, unfortunately, those who don’t win will always suffer the worst consequences. She may be a goner now, but she will not go down without a fight. Up to her last breath, Olenna Tyrell remains true to her nickname, The Queen of Thorns.
Jaime Lannister walks in on Lady Olenna alone in her chambers. She knows that Jaime is there to deliver her death sentence. In a surprising act of mercy, Jaime tells her that he convinced Cersei to give her a swift, painless death by letting her ingest a poison which he mixes in with her wine. Big mistake. Lady Olenna immediately grabs the poisoned wine and drinks it before Jaime can change his mind. Then, with the same sly savagery she used to take down more formidable enemies, she reveals to Jaime that she is the mastermind behind Joffrey’s death. “Tell Cersei it was me,” she said and, judging from his reaction, Jaime knows it in his heart to be true.
It’s a double whammy not only because he is reminded once again of the death of his son, but also because he found out that she made Tyrion their fall guy. Joffrey’s death was the catalyst that started the Lannisters’ fall from grace – his brother exiled, his father died, and his sister-lover humiliated. This is what is tragic about Jaime Lannister (and why he’s one of my favorite story arcs so far): every time he’s about to do the right thing, every time he is within reach of victory, he still ends up losing. Redemption does not come easy for the Kingslayer.
The Game So Far…
- Daenerys lost her momentum and is now being handily beaten by the underdog. Her goal of not being the “queen of ashes” is not working so far. Will she finally heed Olenna’s advice and unleash her dragons on Westeros? Tyrion does not think this is a good idea but with his elaborate plans failing miserably, Daenerys will most likely tread her own path rather than listen to him again.
- Houses Martell and Tyrell are dead. The Tyrells will be replaced by the Tarlys who have pledged allegiance to the crown. House Martell’s case is more complicated. While there are no longer any trueborn Martells ruling Dorne, Oberyn Martell and Ellaria Sand has three other bastard daughters who are eligible to become the next Dornish ruler (women are allowed to hold titles and positions in Dorne). However, the three girls are only kids so the leadership vacuum may not be filled in for a long time which may result in an internal power struggle among Dorne’s other noble houses. However, I highly doubt that Cersei will be able to annex Dorne easily, knowing the Dornishmen’s innate hate for the entire Lannister clan and the fact that they are simply not cowed by any person calling herself Queen (hello, Daenerys!). Even Aegon and his sisters’ dragons didn’t intimidate them, for chrissakes! Too bad the Dorne storyline wasn’t as fleshed out here in the TV series as it was in the books.
- Theon is rescued by Yara’s surviving crew. He is alive and that means he will have to bear the shame of his abandonment.
- We get to see a glimpse of Bronn, our favorite swashbuckling morally gray sword-for-hire. Glad to know he’s still playing sidekick to Jaime but I’d love to see him trade barbs with Tyrion again. They could make a spinoff, name it The Bronn Show, and I would still watch it.
- Bran Stark said that he could see everything – both the past, the present, and the future. It means that, unlike his brother Jon, he knows everything. He said he has something very important to tell Jon Snow. Will he finally reveal Jon’s true parentage? Will he tell him how he can defeat the White Walkers? Honestly, all I want is for Bran to use his power to reveal the extent of Littlefinger’s treachery to Sansa so she can finally get rid of that slimeball.
- The biggest question that looms all over us now that Jon and Daenerys are together is this: will they hook up??? I bet on yes, of course. How about you, guys? I’d love to see me some Jonaerys action. I don’t care if they’re aunt and nephew. This is Game of Thrones. Everything is possible in Game of Thrones.