Episode three of season seven of Game of Thrones! Before I get into my review, it must be noted that time is moving past at an accelerated rate in terms of the season’s pacing thus far. I can’t remember this much happening so quickly, ever. Things that would normally take chapters in the books are happening in the span of minutes in this season of the show. I don’t hate it, but there is certainly a rushed feeling that’s permeating the season thus far.
Nevertheless, we carry on to the recap/review of episode three. And I promise I’ll try to be more concise this time.
Warning: Spoilers everywhere!
We begin this episode at Dragonstone, where Tyrion, Missandei and the Dothraki meet with an arrival – it’s Jon Snow, Davos, and some Northern friends, who have received Daenerys’ raven inviting Jon Snow to bend the knee to her. In the book, Jon’s travel to Dragonstone would take at least three chapters. Things are happening so fast. I’m excited to see Jon and Tyrion together, and their dynamic in this scene is exciting and nostalgic as they talk about how far they both have come across the span of seven seasons of the show. In a thrilling moment, Jon is startled by a huge dragon which swoops down over them. It’s interesting that this happens as soon as Jon tells Tyrion he isn’t a Stark. Interesting indeed! Since he is technically/actually/secretly a Targaryen.
Melisandre watches from above. She and Varys have a very cryptic meeting. It seems that Melisandre’s job is done here – she says she has brought ‘ice and fire’ together; ice being Jon Snow, fire being Daenerys Targaryen, presumably. This felt like some really cheesy writing. Melisandre admits she’s done with politics and is off to Volantis, but Varys doubts her. Melisandre seems to predict that both she and Varys are destined to die in Westeros. I predict that they will both die by the end of season seven.
Jon enters the throne room at Dragonstone and sees Daenerys. He appears mystified. Missandei announces Daenerys with all of her titles. There’s a witty moment where Davos needs to announce Jon and his titles, but he only has one in comparison to Daenerys’ bazillion claims to fame. Daenerys and Jon have a tense discussion about where their loyalties lie. Both are caught up in the history of the Starks and the Targaryens, and are judging one another by their ancestors’ actions and obligations. Daenerys pledges that if Jon bends the knee to her, together they will save Westeros and being back peace to the realm. She sounds quite convincing, and seems to have taken on the persona of a cold and calculated queen.
Everyone, please remember that after the revelation last season that Jon is a Targaryen himself and not actually a Stark – technically, and actually genetically, Daenerys is his aunt. Moving along.
Jon says that he and Daenerys need each other’s help. He accurately predicts that Daenerys won’t take King’s Landing with her army because she doesn’t want to kill innocent civilians. It seems that everyone is accurately predicting Daenerys’ battle strategies this season. Jon mentions the enemy to the North, that is, the army of the dead, which are a real thing. Dothraki arrive and it’s time for Jon and Davos to leave. Daenerys has a nice and powerful dialogue about how she was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms, and the adversities that she has faced across her life. Rightfully so, Jon mentions that if they keep squabbling, she will be ruling over a graveyard and it will be too late because the White Walkers will have killed everyone already. My fave, Davos, then pipes up and agrees that both Daenerys and Jon have made miracles happen in the recent past. One of Jon’s miracles includes being stabbed in the heart and being brought back to life, which Davos almost reveals and covers up quite clumsily. Ultimately, Jon and Daenerys disagree with one another, Jon won’t bend the knee, and no mediation is assisting with the matter. Varys arrives, and the meeting is over, but Jon, Davos and their Northern friends are staying on the island as kind-of-sort-of prisoners.
After they’ve left, Varys reveals that the Ironborn and Dornish fleet were attacked at sea, Ellaria and the Sand Snakes are dead or captured, and the Greyjoys are dead or captured. Not good news. Daenerys’ allies are dwindling fast.
Elsewhere, Theon is retrieved from the sea, luckily by a Greyjoy ship which survived the attack last episode. Theon tells the Greyjoys that bad uncle Euron has taken Yara, but that Theon escaped. The Greyjoys are skeptical of him, and look upon him with disgust for not saving his sister. He lies on the deck of the ship, a pathetic, sodden beast.
In King’s Landing, Euron Greyjoy has arrived, with the captured Ellaria and Tyene Sand (the last surviving Sand Snake), and Yara walking beside him, collared. He is loving the reception he’s receiving as he arrives victorious to the city. He presents these gifts to Cersei at the Red Keep. These are the priceless gifts he was referring to in the first episode; the gift of revenge and justice for her murdered daughter, considering that Ellaria and the Sand Snakes murdered Myrcella back in season five. They are now subject to Cersei’s whim. Euron fully wants to marry Cersei, but Cersei says no, not until they have won the war and their enemies have been destroyed. As a result of this victory, Euron is now commanding the Lannister naval forces, and Jaime Lannister is commanding the army. There’s another nice little spat between Euron and Jaime, a disagreement of manhood and pride. As a sidenote, the costume design is killing it this season. Then again, it’s always amazing.
In the underground cells at the Red Keep in King’s Landing, Ellaria Sand and Tyene Sand are chained to a wall as Cersei, the Mountain, and creepy Dr Frankenstein Qyburn are present. Cersei reminds Ellaria that the Mountain smashed her lover Prince Oberyn’s skull back in season four; which she recalls in perfect detail. Cersei recalls her love for her daughter Myrcella, her only daughter, who was precious to her. In a heartbreaking moment, Cersei turns child-like, simply asking Ellaria why they would murder her daughter. But then she returns to her cold and calculating persona, musing on the ways she wanted to torture or murder Ellaria. In a chilling moment, Cersei gives Tyene a kiss on the lips. She recalls the way Myrcella died, of poison following a kiss from Ellaria. Cersei has managed to find that exact poison, and has poisoned Tyene with it. Ellaria’s punishment is to watch her own daughter die from the very poison that she killed Myrcella with, as they are both chained in a cell together, and to watch and stay alive as her daughter’s body decomposes. Brutal.
This scene illustrates yet another powerful performance by Lena Headey. I’ve long said that she deserves an Emmy for her performance in this show. Consistently, she has been amazing, ever since the first season. Cersei is one of my favourite characters in the books (and the show) because she is complex. She can be evil, but she loves her children and would do anything for them, and is caught as a woman in a man’s world, where she knows she could rule better and more strategically than any man. Now that Cersei’s children are gone, she has nothing to live for and is ruling the realm as such. This is a new Cersei, whose brutality now has no limits.
Anyway, after sentencing Ellaria and her daughter to death, Cersei goes and has sex with her twin brother Jaime. Since Cersei is now queen, she can do whatever she wants and everyone will just have to deal with it. One interesting tidbit about this moment, is that Cersei’s handmaiden (the lady who knocked on the door) seems to be emulating Cersei’s haircut. This actress has been consistent across the seasons, and she used to have long hair but it seems that now Cersei’s short mane is on trend. Just another example of the thoughtful character design on this show.
Someone from the Iron Bank of Braavos arrives to congratulate Cersei on being the first ever Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Unfortunately, there are finances to consider. Whilst the Lannisters are in deep, deep debt, Cersei successfully avoids the Iron Bank cutting them off. She bargains that it’s a much higher risk to bet on Daenerys Targaryen, with her army of Dothraki and dragons. And the Iron Bank seems to agree. Cersei promises to repay the Bank within a fortnight.
Jon and Tyrion meet one another at Dragonstone, in a scene which mirrors a moment from season one – they stand together in a high place, looking over the land and sea, reflecting and brooding on life. Jon appears super stressed because of the impending threat of the army of the dead, whilst he seems to be imprisoned on Dragonstone. Tyrion seems to now believe in the army of the dead, and the White Walkers, even though back in season one he thought they were the stuff of fairy tales. Now, he trusts Jon’s honest eyes. Tyrion admits that he would rather face Cersei than an army of dead zombies. He acknowledges that they need to trust one another, but perhaps Tyrion can do something to help him out.
Later, with Daenerys, Tyrion tells her about the mountain of dragonglass that can be found underneath the island of Dragonstone. Jon needs it, because it can be turned into weapons to kill White Walkers. Daenerys is like, “r u 4 real?”. I really like the relationship dynamic between Tyrion and Daenerys. Tyrion reflects that no matter what, Jon is here, and he may as well take the dragonglass since Daenerys and company certainly aren’t using it. Keep him occupied, let him mine whilst they do other, more important things, such as taking the Lannister stronghold of Casterly Rock. Daenerys wonders about what Davos was saying, about Jon being stabbed in the heart. Tyrion says the Northerners probably made it up because they were bored, LOL.
In another Dragonstone scene, Daenerys is watching her dragons fly around the island, and Jon approaches. She tells him that she named these two dragons, Viserion and Rhaegal, after her dead brothers. They share some banter together, and Daenerys says she will allow Jon to mine the dragonglass in the island, and will help him with whatever he needs. Does Daenerys believe Jon about the huge zombie army beyond the Wall? Jury’s out at this point. So far, the interactions between these two have been interesting. Starting off as icy cold and oppositional, the two seem to have almost forged somewhat of an unspoken agreement to work together.
In Winterfell, Sansa looks upon her people, who are now her responsibility to govern. She talks with her Northern colleagues about the food and resources Winterfell will need to survive, particularly if the armies of the North return. They agree that they’re not prepared, but Sansa gives effective and timely recommendations to those who are able to carry them out. It seems that ruling suits her well, so far. She seems thoughtful and wise. She and Littlefinger have a fairly esoteric chat about how she can be the best ruler ever. He advises her to think about everything and all possible courses of action, and as a result she won’t be surprised by anything. He advises her to take calculated risks, treat everyone as both an enemy and a friend, as if every possible series of events is happening at once. That way, you can predict everything before it happens. It seems that this is how Littlefinger has survived up until this point. Quite sage life advice. He’s still creepy, though.
Meanwhile, someone has arrived at the Winterfell gates. Who is it? It’s Bran Stark! And Meera Reed. It’s an emotional reunion between Sansa and Bran, her little brother, as the Stark theme swells. Bran seems to have grown up so much since they last saw one another. But he seems dulled and numb. Later, they meet at the weirwood tree. Sansa reflects that Bran must be Lord of Winterfell now, but Bran says he can’t be because he’s the Three Eyed Raven, which is difficult to explain. Essentially, he can see everything that has ever happened to anyone and is a living, breathing encyclopedia slash looking glass for everything that is happening in Westeros, both past and present. He needs to learn how to see better, though. And what an appropriate time, when you’re seeing your sister for the first time after years and years, to recall one of the most traumatic memories of her life, as he tells her how beautiful she looked on her wedding night. Bad move, Bran.
Perhaps Sansa doesn’t realise it yet, but as a result of Bran arriving in Winterfell, she now has in her possession one of the best and most useful weapons in the realm. Bran can see all of the conflicts in the realm that are happening right now (or have ever happened), which is useful information in times of war. However, it also puts them in a precarious position, as this means that the White Walkers and the Night’s King can now track Bran past the Wall and into Winterfell.
In the Citadel at Oldtown, Archmaester Marwyn is assessing Jorah and observes that his greyscale seems to be completely healed. Jorah covers for Sam’s sneaky healing work. Jorah and Sam say goodbye, and Jorah admits he’s off to see Daenerys Targaryen again, since he owes his life to both her and Sam. They shake hands without fear of infection or contamination. A nice moment. Later, Archmaester Marwyn rightly suspects Sam of performing the surgery despite advice to the contrary, and Sam admits he treated Jorah and openly defied Marwyn’s orders. Sam succeeded at a difficult surgery, but his reward is not getting expelled from the Citadel. Now, he has to make copies of some rotting manuscripts. Good one Sam!
At Dragonstone, Daenerys and friends are discussing their next moves. They need to destroy Euron Greyjoy’s powerful fleet of ships. But the fleet could be anywhere in the world by now. Daenerys appears to insinuate that she wishes to ride one of her dragons and fire blast Euron’s fleet. This is a risky idea.
In a clever battle scene, Tyrion’s voiceover narrates the Unsullied attack on Casterly Rock. Whilst Casterly Rock is well provisioned and the army are well trained, the Lannister army don’t know the castle’s weakness – the sewers, which Tyrion was in charge of managing in his adolescence. Tyrion has advised the Unsullied to make a sneak attack on Casterly Rock through the sewers, via a secret passage that he built. The battle occurs; Unsullied against Lannisters. It’s messy and bloody, and the Lannisters appear to be outnumbered. Tyrion notes that the Unsullied are fighting for freedom, and for Daenerys, but the Lannisters are just fighting out of fear. The Unsullied will surely triumph. And they do! I really liked the way that Tyrion narrated this battle. It made it more dramatic, combining the epic music, action, and voiceover. It’s interesting, because in previous seasons, these would possibly have been different scenes – Tyrion talking, and then a battle happening. Just another example of this season speeding things up quite a lot. At least they found an effective way of managing it.
However, after the end of the battle, Grey Worm notes that this was probably too easy; too good to be true. There were supposed to be more soldiers. Where are they? The Unsullied look out to the sea, and again, Euron Greyjoy and his fleet are burning and destroying the ships that took them to Casterly Rock. Bad uncle Euron strikes again!
As it turns out, the rest of the Lannister armies have left Casterly Rock, led by Jaime Lannister. In a well organised formation, they march to Highgarden, the land of the Tyrells. The music is a beautiful and ominous riff on ‘The Rains of Castemere’. The Lannister army easily overtakes the castle, and Jaime makes his way through the castle, straight to Olenna Tyrell, who is waiting for him. They talk about how fighting was never a strength of the Tyrells, but I beg to differ, given that the Tyrells essentially won the Battle of the Blackwater for the Lannisters back in season two. Jaime explains that he predicted that Daenerys would focus her attention on Casterly Rock, so they went elsewhere; a tactic which he learned from Robb Stark when he was sneakily captured by the Stark army in season one.
Olenna asks how Jaime will kill her. She reflects that she has done whatever has been necessary for the safety of House Tyrell, but Cersei has done monstrous and terrible things that she was never capable of imagining. And that was her ultimate mistake. Olenna makes the comment that Jaime really does love Cersei, but she will be the end of him (interestingly, as it stands in the fifth book, he has already realised this). Jaime says that Cersei had some ideas on how to kill Olenna, but he convinced her to use a painless and quick form of poison out of respect. She drinks the poison in her wine, sculling the glass. And then comes one of the best moments in Game of Thrones history.
As she is presumably dying, after drinking a potent and quick-acting poison, Olenna drops the massive bombshell that she was the culprit behind then-King Joffrey’s death. She says she would hate to die like Joffrey, describing his death in intense and painful detail. She didn’t intend for Joffrey to die in such a horrific fashion so publicly, as she’d never seen the poison in action before. Jaime’s face is a picture of shock, rage, and grief. One last stab at Jaime, Cersei, and the Lannisters. “Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me.”
Honestly, that was the best. I love Diana Rigg, and her portrayal of Queen of Thorns, Lady Olenna Tyrell has been sublime. Vale, you master of shade!
In the next episode, entitled ‘The Spoils of War’, the trailer looks like we’re going to see some more cash money drama with Cersei and the Iron Bank, Daenerys worrying about losing Westeros already, Jaime a hoard of gold (presumably looted from the Tyrells who were pretty cashed up), a cryptic dagger, drama at sea, Daenerys deciding to use brute force, exploring the mines of Dragonstone, Littlefinger, Brienne with a sword (finally!), someone (Arya?) on horseback observing Winterfell, Sansa looking defeated, and big old Drogon the dragon hopefully letting loose against some Lannister soldiers. I don’t know what this all means, but I can’t wait!