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Game of Thrones 1×06 Rewatch: A Booksnob Frown

Kylie

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We’re back for another Game of Thrones Fandomentals rewatch, The Wars to Come. This project, started by two unrepentant book snobs, seeks to revisit HBO’s flagship show back when we remember it being pretty high in quality, so as to glean insights into the vision of showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss (D&D) that we’ve seen horrifyingly unfold. Last week we noticed a keen slip in quality, but this week we’re here with the iconic “A Golden Crown” episode. Kylie, Julia, and Jana break it down. But first, for anyone who didn’t have a chance to watch: a recap.

Episode Recap

There’s no rest for the weary on this week’s Game of Thrones! Recovering from his leg injury in a fight with Jaime Lannister, Ned is barely conscious before Robert reinstates him as Hand, ignoring Cersei’s protests. Ned still wants to make the case for letting Dany live, but his king won’t hear it. He’s too busy heading off on a boar hunt with his brother, so they can swap bawdy stories.

Left to rule in Robert’s stead, Ned fields distressing news from the riverlands where smallfolk describe Ser Gregor Clegane as raiding their villages. Being Tywin Lannister’s “mad dog,” Ned decides to take a hard stand: he attaints him, creates a task force headed by Ser Beric Dondarrion to bring him to justice, and demands Tywin ride to King’s Landing within a fortnight to answer for these crimes and or be branded a traitor. Rather extreme…

His daughters, meanwhile, seem just as troubled by all the political unease. Arya can barely focus on her “dancing” lessons, and Sansa is rude and antagonistic to her Septa with no provocation. Her mood perks up when Joffrey begs her forgiveness for his former cruelty, but it’s short-lived; given the unrest, Ned informs the girls that they’re going home to Winterfell. In the process, Sansa says something about Joffrey being nothing like Robert that makes him realize perhaps he is not the king’s biological son at all.

Speaking of Winterfell, Bran is still having his three-eyed raven dreams. When he wakes, however, he learns that the special saddle is ready for him to test out. He does just that with Robb and Theon watching, the latter of whom tries to encourage the former to call banners and go to war over Ned getting stabbed by Lannisters. While they bicker, Bran almost gets robbed by three wildlings. Initially, Robb rushes in alone, but Theon comes back to kill the wildling that has a knife to Bran’s throat. They spare a wildling woman, and that’s that.

It’s just a sticky as situation in the Eyrie, where Tyrion is still shoved in his skycell. He finally figures out how to get a message to Lysa and decides to “confess.” However, when Lysa and Cat still try to charge him with the attempted murder of Bran and the murder of Jon Arryn, there’s not much he can say to convince them otherwise. Realizing the trial won’t be fair thanks to Lysa, he demands a trial by combat, where the sellsword Bronn stands as his champion. Bronn manages to defeat Ser Vardis Egen, and Tyrion walks free. We’re sure there won’t be any hurt feelings!

And finally in Vaes Dothrak, it’s nothing but hurt feelings on the part of Viserys. His sister has the love and devotion of the Dothraki, which he sees on display when a prophecy is made about the great son she’s supposedly carrying. He decides to steal the dragon eggs and sell them to help buy an army, but Jorah stops him. Viserys then gets drunk and decides that since the Dothraki won’t carry weapons or spill blood in Vaes Dothrak, he could get his way by threatening to stab Dany in her stomach (more explicitly threatening her unborn baby). Khal Drogo, with what seems like Dany’s tacit approval, finds a loophole and kills Viserys by melting gold into a pot and dumping it over his head…a golden crown for a king.

Cue credits.

Initial, quick reaction

Kylie: This episode was a little weird for me. And it’s totally my own fault, but I saw the title and my brain went “Yes! Good episode!” Parts of it were—I can safely say that. It’s just, I can’t help but feel let down by it. So much of it—Ned becoming Hand again, the Theon and Robb dynamic, everything at the Eyrie, and yes even the Golden Crown itself—felt lacking somehow. It’s like I remember more build-up in my head when I had been a first time watcher, and that was without book knowledge. Here, Drogo and Dany are awesomely in love to the point where she’s somewhat okay with her brother’s death for disrespecting the Dothraki, and I’m on my couch like, “have they had more than 2 non-rape interactions?”

Again, a lot of it was fine, but I just felt so empty watching this in a way I didn’t feel even last week. Help!

Jana: Yes, it did feel a little like “plot point, plot point, plot point… Crown!” didn’t it? To be fair, I’m not sure I read the crowning scene as Dany being okay with it because she’s so in love with Drogo; more like Dany being okay with it because all the people have her back and her brother is deranged and dangerous at this point. But yes, the sudden loving relationship between her and her owner and rapist was… sudden.

love.gif

Other than that, well, the sets are still pretty. The scene in the Eyrie was a little over the top comedic with everything, but I think that bothered me less when I didn’t know what was coming. The scene with Sansa and Joffrey was… appropriately creepy? I think that’s the best way to describe it.

Julia: There’s something about this episode… I’m not entirely sure what it is, but it felt less than. Maybe it was the writing? The whole thing felt a bit surface level and amateurish. Maybe it’s because I read the books and I know how simplified the political situation is? It still looks good, but somehow getting through it was a bit of a slog.

Highlights/lowlights

Julia: I’m struggling to come up with a highlight, at least a sincere one. I enjoyed Ros actually giving us a perspective from the common people, I guess? And it’s a reasonable one too, like she’s a person who makes decisions for her own rational reasons or something.

The worst was everything to do with Sansa. First she’s being horrible to the woman who raised her and clearly loves her (and is at that moment praising her) for no reason at all, then Arya and Ned are sharing an eyeroll to make fun of her for having dreams about having royal blond babies. You know, the thing all of society wants her to want. The writers were just being cruel to the character here.

Jana: That scene. Good god, just that scene. Sansa would NEVER be this rude to her Septa. And why is the septa so opposed to her integrating into southern culture anyway? It’s her job! And then the framing of Joffrey coming over and being all romantic, what was that?!

I’m also having trouble thinking of a highlight. Listing the opening scene feels wrong. Tyrion hoping Cersei ate a stew he jacked off into is, like, an echo of his book character? Bobby B’s four men hunt on foot was kind of funny, even though it wasn’t in any way intended to be? I think I stopped watching originally after this episode and only picked it back up a few years later, and… I can see why.

Kylie: Am I a poser if I also pick the Sansa/Mordane scene? I mean who even was that? What were they hoping to accomplish? Why is Sansa framed like an asshole? Is it that she’s a young, stupid kid? Is this what D&D got from her PoV chapters? AHHHH.

Another lowlight contender is D&D thinking up four different ways Tyrion can describe jerking off into turtle stew. How clever.

I guess my highlight was the golden crown itself? I can’t tell if that was just Harry Lloyd selling the hell out of it or not, though. It felt rushed and unearned, like I said, but his “That’s all I wanted” line just so perfectly captures everything about Viserys.

Quality of writing

Julia: D&D must have really peaked early, I guess. Like I said in my overview, it feels like amateur hour. Prime example, the scene where Ned is sitting on the Iron Throne and Littlefinger is “manipulating him.” “Oh, your wife is a Tully, Ned. Why would the Lannisters attack her?” Like, does the character think Ned is that dumb, or does D&D think the audience is?

Jana: Speaking of Ned, is it just me, or was the end where he discovers Joffrey is the first Baratheon ever to have blond hair a little obtuse? Like, how would this tip him off, along with Sansa wanting all the blond babies (like she’s supposed to because of society and you can all stop rolling your eyes, assholes), that Robert can’t possibly be the father? We the audience saw the twins fucking and might have put two and two together. Would it have killed the writers to add the part where Ned looks at Baratheon/Lannister marriages specifically because he’s not a complete idiot?

Kylie: I love how he also only went back two generations before Robert. Game, set, match! Remember, it’s the “slow minds” Starks on this show!

I thought Littlefinger was supposed to be that unsubtle? I mean, I’m not sure, but Sean Bean kind of played it like he was annoyed at Petyr for whispering this, but also wanted a thinly veiled excuse to come down on Tywin. Granted what we know of the show, D&D’s pattern suggests that they do believe the audience to be this slow on the uptake.

Julia: Yeah, it’s really hard to tell if that’s intentional, or just Sean Bean knowing he’s too good for this shit. But I have trouble believing this Ned could ever be “playing the game” enough to think he could indirectly come down on Tywin. Or, like, fortify Moat Cailin. Remember poor dumb Robb just sitting there with no instructions or anything.

Kylie: This writing is nowhere near the standards of Seasons 5 on, but it’s really here that we begin to see moments where you can tell D&D think themselves very clever. “I flogged the one-eyed snake.” Stick to Martin’s words, boys.

Our 8th grade book report (on themes)

Kylie: Judgement? There’s Tyrion’s trial most obviously, but Ned sitting in judgement of The Mountain/Tywin (by proxy), Viserys being sentenced to death, even Robb proclaiming what Theon’s role should be (that’s a stretch, I know). It’s the best I can do; if I’m being honest this one seemed a bit more disjointed than usual.

Jana: I’d like to submit “Starks are dumb” to the court. Ned is dumb and can’t do politics and listens to Littlefinger, Catelyn is dumb because of how her plan backfired in so many ways, Sansa is dumb because she is charmed by Joffrey and can’t see him for the monster he is yet, and also she buys into the pretty southern politics thing, and Robb is dumb and ungrateful in his treatment of Theon. And for not declaring war already, like apparently any normal person would do. And by normal person the show means Tywin Lannister, whose actions are kind of framed as being perfectly reasonable and what any good lord would do. Blegh.

Kylie: Arya escapes being dumb by being so plucky! She says “seven hells” at the idea of marrying the prince!

Jana: Quite, but see, she too is temporarily dumb when she thinks it’s a good idea to skip sword training because she’s scared for her father! But since she is the coolest, it only lasts for half a minute.

Julia: Don’t forget honor being dumb! Honor and the whole feudal order with it! I mean, the feudal order being dumb (or more accurately, inherently unsustainable, inequitable, and destructive) is a major theme of aSoIaF too, but it’s seldom expressed by the narrative making fun of Sansa. The Kangaroo Court of the Vale was blatantly ridiculous to anyone actually concerned with justice, but it was paired with Bronn proving to everyone how fighting “with honor,” that is, fairly, is dumb too. Just like wanting to marry a prince is, for example. And when I know what’s coming with Ned this season… it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Kylie: I think it truly comes back to D&D believing honor gets you killed in this world. Then we get into Season 7 when they’re painting Ned like the poor dolt who could never tell a lie. It all comes back to the acedia aspect; why do they feel this world is worth fighting for, exactly?

Cracks in the plaster (the bullshit to come)

Jana: Sansa gets the third copy of a two-of-a-kind lion necklace! I know that’s not exactly what this section is for, but, I mean. With all the botched call-backs seasons 5 and 6 had, is it any wonder the showrunners rewatched season 1 before writing season 7?

Julia: Sansa in general this episode. Like, why wouldn’t you want this stupid, spoiled brat to suffer horribly?

Kylie: I kind of doubt D&D revisited Season 1 until just before writing Season 7 at all. And I guess they were so proud of themselves for actually putting in minimal effort that they couldn’t help but jam in every vague reference they thought of.

Could it be any more obvious that these two had no interest in Sansa from the start?

Jana: I think they had a lot of interest in Sansa. As a foil to Arya, as a comically stupid background character, as someone for the audience to be annoyed by, so that her suffering wouldn’t seem that over the top, even just given the content of the books that were released at the time.

Julia: I think I would like to note the true birth of Bronn, purveyor of folksy truth and audience avatar. True, he didn’t reference his penis in any way, but he seemed to enjoy Tyrion’s monologue about his own, so I’ll count it.

At least some one did.

Remember adaptation?

Kylie: I hate to belabor the point about Tyrion ‘milking his eel’, but the adaptation of the Eyrie stuff is ridiculous. Cat is in no way given any sort of space to react, or have an arc (she was a damn POV for half of this!), and the entire thing was rewritten just to make it be like the funny, perfect guy charms his way out of a sticky situation. Yes, his trial was bullshit in the books too, which Cat realized as things unfolded, but there was just so much more to it than Tyrion making the people in attendance laugh.

Julia: And they play Lysa for laughs a bit too. Which is cruel.

There’s a bit of the book here. Like, the trial is Kafka-esque, which it’s supposed to be because feudal justice is more than a bit Kafka-esque. It’s a little difficult to maintain perspective on this but, like… Tyrion is innocent here. And Lysa literally pulled the accusation about him killing Jon Arryn out of her ass. This is supposed to show how ridiculous this entire legal system is, and laughing at ridiculous things is fair. But there’s a difference between that and an actual comedic tone, right?

And yeah, D&D never really got the memo that Cat is a major character.

Jana: Cat is basically a decorative tapestry here for all the impact she has on things. She doesn’t even get to talk to her sister about what the hell is going on with her. It’s the Tyrion Lannister Stand-Up Hour, nobody else matters. Except for Bronn, maybe. Bronn is funny and on his side.

What I thought was rather well-adapted was the opening scene. Uh, missing fever dream (what are themes) and let’s not give away THE GREATEST MYSTERY OF THE SERIES™ notwithstanding. It showed Robert’s very worst side, and while Cersei was clearly framed as being the antagonist here, Ned did look conflicted when Robert hit her. Which… is a low bar to clear, but that one look adds some nuance to this. It sets up why Ned tries to save her in future episodes pretty well, I think. I mean, they botched a lot about that, but this one moment? This one moment was pretty good. Sean Bean is too good for this show, as always.

Kylie: I’ll also say the way the golden crown scene went itself is pretty much how I picture it in the books. It’s just the build-up where I question the portrayal.

Cat and Sansa are truly the first victims to this adaptation though, and certainly the ones where it’s easiest to see what’s going to come down the pipe.

Carol Watch: who is Cersei this week?

Kylie: Well, Cersei had one scene, and it was almost straight from the book in terms of her dialogue. So, Cersei, right?

Jana: Well, it was a person so drastically different from politically savvy Carol who wanted to make her marriage work last episode that it gave me whiplash. So yeah, I’d say Cersei, too. Bye, Carol! See you soon!

Julia: I might even call her a well-adapted Cersei.

Kylie: Imagine Lena Headey actually getting to play A Feast for Crows Cersei. The missed potential always bothers me.

Exposition Imposition: good or clunky?

Kylie: “Fish…the sigil of House Tully. Isn’t that your wife’s House—Tully—my Lord Hand?”

I’m choosing the worst example, I know. I’d almost call the exposition in this episode detrimentally lacking, though. Who are these weird women making Dany eat a horse heart and talking about her fetus? That seems random.

Jana: Does the Littlefinger quote even count as exposition? We know this! We know that he knows! Is the point that he is egging Ned on and informing the audience in the throne room? Vaes Dothrak was extremely random, yes. I know book 5 wasn’t out yet, but the khalasar pissing off after Drogo’s death because Dany doesn’t want to be a Dosh Khaleen is a plot point in this season. Sort of. Technically. So you’d think they might mention that the Dosh Khaleen, like, exist? Have a name? Are an institution?

Julia: I looked very carefully and Mama Dosh wasn’t even there!

Impostor Mama Dosh

Kylie: As far as this episode went, it was just a slightly dramatic woman that people enjoyed listening to.

Hey, this is probably more foreshadowing than exposition, but we should probably talk about the Bran seeing the three-eyed raven dreams at some point. This is week #2 of them.

Jana: I don’t know, the raven isn’t even saying or doing anything particular. It just shows up and is creepy for a few seconds. I’m not even entirely sure what it’s supposed to foreshadow, really. That Bran is going to have the same emotional range once he takes up the associated title?

Julia: Bran does take a lot of naps.

Jana: The only honest to god bit of clunky exposition that counts as exposition I can think of are the wildlings. When attacking Bran, they manage to mention Benjen, Mance Rayder, the White Walkers, and Dorne. I’m not entirely sure any of these things would mean anything to anyone unsullied, but, you know, they’re there.

Kylie: At the same time it isn’t the world’s worst way to get name familiarity going. Though you’re right in that it didn’t exactly flow.

“Benjen Stark’s own blood? Think what Mance would give us.”

“Piss on Mance Rayder and piss on the North. We’re going as far south as south goes. There ain’t no White Walkers down in Dorne.”

How was the pacing?

Julia: Overall, I feel like things just happened suddenly in this episode? Does this make sense to anyone else? Like, in the very first scene, Ned just woke up, but I guess he wasn’t unconscious because he’s fully up to speed and it’s war! The small folk are here to talk about it! Robb needs to do stuff, says Theon, and Ros is running away! And within the scenes, people seem to reach conclusions too quickly.

Kylie: I mean, the passage of time was perfectly plausible and worked together between plotlines, but you’re totally right. All my praise about slowly building tensions seemed to get chucked out the window here. It’s not like what had come before it didn’t matter, but the things that happened here (Osha popping up, Viserys getting his crowned) still felt rushed, as if D&D got bored of things.

Jana: I actually felt like things slowed down somehow? The last episode ended with a pretty big brawl that seemed to obliterate the status quo, and this episode opens with Bobby B declaring the big things in King’s Landing from last episode didn’t happen. I realize that that was a book scene, and a well-adapted one at that.

Everything afterwards also feels, as Kylie said, like last episode’s tension just slowly wafts away. The Eyrie stuff was funny, maybe, but so devoid of tension (of course the funny protagonist these shots are centered around isn’t dying, duh) that is started to drag. The sudden appearance of Osha and her friends between Theon and Robb talking about how there might be a conflict happening felt a bit random, and they don’t do a good job of tying her into Jon’s upcoming storyline. And Viserys’s end did feel both a little rushed and like it had been long overdue at the same time. Uneven is probably the best way I’d describe the pacing here.

Let’s talk about sex, baby

Kylie: This was a somewhat sexless episode, as far as I remember. We got Robert bragging about his college days, and Ros flashed her vag, I guess, but those are kind of laughable. I mean what the hell, Theon? How was that worth it?

Jana: And Ros is still keeping up with current politics! Though I do wonder, if she wanted to get far away from the war, shouldn’t she have done like the wildlings wanted to and gone to Dorne? I want Ros’s adventures in Dorne!

Julia: Omg, Jana. Why would you tease me with that! I wonder if Arianne’s made the eight. We know Oberyn did.

Kylie: We have Evil Sex Worker of False Tears to sate your desire for that, dear. In the meantime, Ros has her aspirations fixed on the FINEST ESTABLISHMENT.

Jana: The true question is whether that establishment is fine enough that you could “Make the 8” in one afternoon. Why did they never have Littlefinger brag about that?

In memoriam…Wallen and Stiv (wildlings with Osha), Vardis Egen, and Viserys Targaryen

Jana: Bye, Harry Lloyd! Your face will be missed! At least we got his wig back for a bit.

Kylie: His outfit too. Discount Harry Lloyd will be happily married to discount NatPo in no time at all!

I feel like we lost Viserys too soon this time around, whereas when I was a first time viewer, I remember feeling like this was highly earned and even a little overdue on the part of Dany. Now in her plotline we’re left with Drogo who we barely know, and Jorah, who is Mr. Exposition for the most part. I’m struggling to understand Dany’s relationship to anyone around her other than Doreah.

Jana: But hey, at least Viserys went out establishing that Jorah is totally into the 14-year old. I think when you watch the show without knowing what it becomes, you are just naturally eager to see Viserys go. He is unhinged and a constant threat to the person we are supposed to emphasize with in this story line. But if you know how much of a blessing this actor was in relation to what else is going to happen on the show, you’re sad to see him go.

Kylie: If only Vardis Egen had fought without honor, like all the cool cats who survive in Westeros. Stupid, dumb honor.

I have barely anything to say about the wildlings who died. We haven’t been given much insight into them at all, but until Jon goes north of the Wall (spoilers?), that’s really the case in the books too. I’m not sure why Robb was so mad at Theon still, but they were going for…something, I suppose.

Julia: I think it’s about how Starks aren’t willing to take risks that might hurt people, or “do what needs to be done”? Again, too much honor.

Yeah, we’ve said next to nothing about the wildlings. I don’t know, they seemed annoying.

Honestly, Harry Lloyd is a treasure, but my main thought during the crown scene was “does gold melting work like that”?

Jana: Nope! Unless the Dothraki cook with the hottest fires known to gods and men, the gold was very impure and very thin.

And what is there to say about the wildlings? They might be decent foreshadowing had they been at all connected to Jon’s story line. Just a cross fade would have been enough. And I’m not one to ask for more Jon content, but here, it might have helped. Eh, I guess they name-dropped Benjen at least. Among other things.

Kylie: Maybe we won’t be pouring one out for them, but Harry Lloyd will be missed.

And next week we lose another delightful actor…

That brings us to a close for “The Golden Crown,” however. I’m curious if our readers felt the decline in quality too. Is this just because we know what’s coming and have far less patience for stuff like Cat’s adaptation, or are things truly starting to get all D&D here? Let us know below, and we will meet again next week in The Wars to Come.


Images courtesy of HBO

Kylie is a Managing Editor at The Fandomentals on a mission to slay all the tropes. She has a penchant for complex familial dynamics and is easily pleased when authors include in-depth business details.

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Mytly
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Mytly

I find myself in the very odd position of disagreeing with a negative review of GoT, and even defending it. Ahhh, the end of the world must be near! Uh, what was I saying? Right, positive things about GoT (and that’s not an oxymoron!). I actually enjoyed this episode quite a lot as an Unsullied, and find that it holds up even as a Book Snob. The cracks in the plaster are there, of course – the Dumb Starks, Bratty Sansa, personality-free Catelyn, the hilarious St. Tyrion, ‘honour get you killed’, and even the seeds of Mad Queen Daenerys (more… Read more »

athena
Member
athena

Dany scenes aside, I think that there is plenty to not like about this episode as both an adaptation and a series unto itself. Tyrion’s trial is written in Cat’s POV and yet Lysa AND Robin have more lines than she does. Apart from her head-nod to Ser Rodrick, she doesn’t do anything and there’s any point in having her there. I agree with Julia that something about the pacing felt off as well. I think the extra time spent with Ned and Cat would have been warranted, but we got flashed and heard some dick jokes, so what are… Read more »

Ivana
Member
Ivana

One of the problems is that GoT is terrible with getting across anything that is internalized. Cat indeed doesn’t get to do much in that scene in the book either, since Lysa is in control and Cat quickly realizes she can’t do much about it, but they could have given her more reaction shots and added some lines, if not during then after the scene, to get across what she was thinking and how frustrated she was with Lysa’s actions and the way the trial was proceeding.

Ann Taylor
Guest

Well, I have something to say about the wildlings. Maybe I just terribly don’t remember something from the books, but at least the one “wildling” on the picture above seems like deserter of the Watch and not really wildling. Deserter who tried to cosplay future Jon with terrible ragged wig that didn’t fit him at all. His hair just seems so… unnatural on him…

Jana
Member

I’m not sure whether saying he’s a Night’s Watch deserter because of his black clothes isn’t giving them too much credit. We’re not quite at the point were everyone wears black, but they already haven’t been to too attentive when it comes to house colors and sigils. I think only Viserys really wore something styled after his house so far. Uh, and Tyrion wears dark red, I guess.

Ann Taylor
Guest
Ann Taylor

Yeah, sigils are surely missing. I don’t count the Hand’s tourney, there were a lot of them and I thought some shouldn’t be there (but I’m not able to tell which right now, some of the North I think), and it seemed just like they took some randomly and threw them there. But otherwise… as stupid as the Littlefinger’s “whispering” to Ned above the meaning of dead fish seems now, I truly needed it for the first time. I wasn’t watching carefuly, because I took the whole season in one day fort the first time, and despite Littlefinger’s not subtle… Read more »

Bo
Member

I know I’m getting way ahead, but I started this rewatch with first-time watchers who got way ahead, and you would not believe how bad it gets by season 3. Seasons 3 and 4 are just as bad as season 5 and on. The only thing saving them is that they “adapt” the best book in the series. They were depressingly ugly wake-up calls. Season 1 is a freaking gift in comparison. I know it’s been mentioned numerous times between Kylie and Julia, but you can definitely tell how D&D have no fucking clue who Cat or Sansa are. It’s… Read more »

Ivana
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Ivana

Not season 2? A lot of season was really bad, and they did very little right (Blackwater, 85% of Theon’s storyline, a couple of other scenes… that’s about it). I’d say it’s worse than 3 and 4.

Mytly
Member
Mytly

One majorly negative thing that I did notice in this episode is GoT’s tendency to use naked female bodies as ‘interesting’ backdrops. It’s bad enough when they show naked women writhing around in the background of exposition (aka sexposition) – the worst example of which we’ll be treated to next week: the ‘Play with her ass’ scene. But in this week’s episode, we see them using naked (or at least topless) women as backdrops for an action scene, namely the crowning scene. It makes no Doylist or Watsonian sense! Why are topless dancers gyrating in front of Drogo while he’s… Read more »

Ivana
Member
Ivana

That was probably the influence of the unnamed executive producer “for the pervert side of the audience” that Neil Marshall mentioned in his interview where he explained how he was forced to feature a naked woman in the Bronn/Sandor scene.

Maidens and Mules
Member
Maidens and Mules

In retrospect, the omission of Ned’s fever dream about the Tower of Joy was the show’s first serious misstep. This scene is the hub around which Ned’s story arc rotates. For the first, but not the last time, GRRM shows the reader the true face of war, even a war as justifed as Robert’s Rebellion: eight good men dead for no reason, and Ned Stark, who survived the carnage, haunted by the memories of his dead friends and foes alike and the promise he made to his dying sister. Ned’s story was pretty well done for the first five episodes,… Read more »

Mytly
Member
Mytly

Yup, the lack of the Tower of Joy dream in this episode is a major adaptational fail. I don’t think that Tyrion was meant to be unsympathetic in the confession scene (though that doesn’t mean we can’t find him unsympathetic anyway). The intention of that scene strongly suggests that we’re supposed to laugh at his sexist, classist anecdotes, not condemn him for them. Yeah, ‘not today’ is one of the best dialogue additions on the show. That said, I don’t see how this indicates Show!Syrio is a Faceless Man. Referring to the God of Death seems more like a general… Read more »

Maidens and Mules
Member
Maidens and Mules

Being generous, I think Tyrion’s “confessions” were meant to be sarcastic; he was mocking Lysa’s perception of him as the Imp by confessing to various depraved, Impish acts (of course, as we later find out, Lysa wasn’t just accusing him of murder out of prejudice; she was trying to cover up her role in Jon Arryn’s murder). Nonetheless, I do get the sense that, even if Tyrion didn’t actually do the things he confessed to, he certainly fantasized about doing them. I’m not sure about Syrio as a Faceless Man. On one hand, his telling Arya that she is a… Read more »

Mytly
Member
Mytly

But why would the FM be watching Arya from the beginning? It’s not like she has some particular quality that would make her an ideal Faceless Woman, or anything like that. Bloodraven was watching Bran because Bran definitely has the talent needed to be the next Three-Eyed Crow/Raven. But Arya is, quite frankly, a terrible Faceless Woman (in both the show and book, though for different reasons). She cannot let go of her identity, she keeps killing for personal reasons and she doesn’t really buy into the FM philosophy at all. It seems really strange – well, more like extremely… Read more »

Maidens and Mules
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Maidens and Mules

Good point, and one that raises a further question: why is the House of Black and White not only keeping a failed recruit around, but (apparently) promoting her and escalating her training?

Mytly
Member
Mytly

If you’re taking about the books, then Arya isn’t a ‘failed recruit’ – she’s still undergoing training, and she’s got potential when she agrees to play by the FM’s rules – witness the clever way she kills the insurance man. The problem with her in the books is that she isn’t always willing to play by the rules and has a tendency to go give the ‘gift’ of death to people based on who she thinks deserves it, rather than as part of an assignment. However, she’s done that only twice so far – and we don’t yet know the… Read more »

Maidens and Mules
Member
Maidens and Mules

Definitely talking about the books. Whatever the show might have been trying to set for Arya in season 1, it fell by the wayside long ago. I say she’s a failed recruit in the books because while she’s certainly able and willing to kill, that’s only half the equation. She needs to become no one and she can’t. And what’s odd is, despite her failure to become no one, she keeps getting promoted. She kills Daeron and tells the Kindly Man why; he escalates her training. She figures out why someone wants the insurance man dead and talks about it… Read more »

Mytly
Member
Mytly

I do think this is reading way too much into things and assigning Watsonian meaning to Doylist plot contrivances. I mean, obviously there’s a ship going to Braavos at Saltpans – how would the plot work if Arya had no means of getting to Braavos? That hardly means it was waiting for her. Saltpans is a port that’s right across the Narrow Sea from Braavos, and the Braavosi are prolific traders. It’s not much of a coincidence that Arya found a Braavosi ship there. We don’t know how the FM go about training their recruits other than Arya. Considering that… Read more »

Ivana
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Ivana

Jaqen H’ghar doesn’t necessarily worship R’hllor, he just thinks R’hllor is real and will have his due. This is not in contradiction with what the Faceless Men believe – they recognize all the deities people worship and have their statues in the HOBAW. I assume that Jaqen’s action with Arya had nothing to with the FM missions and were just out of his own beliefs, whether those were beliefs of the FM or of the Jaqen personality he had taken on. He was probably between missions at the time, if he had already fulfilled his mission in King’s Landing or… Read more »

athena
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athena

I really hated the hunting scene. Like the King of the Seven Kingdoms goes hunting with three other dudes? What the fuck is that? Forget getting Robert drunk and stupid–all Tywin would have to do is send a mysterious band of outlaws into the Kingswood and problem solved! And the stuff with Renly is just so terrible. We get it, Renly is gay. He loves fancy clothes and hates hunting and blood. He’s just way more sensitive (because he’s gay!) and he cares about the needs of the common people–not fucking his way around Westeros. Because that’s not a thing… Read more »

Jana
Member

That hunt actually made me laugh. Like, here’s the King on a fun hiking trip with his brother, one dude for protection, and one dude who pours the drinks. Your average bachelorette party has more pomp and circumstance about it, and people are still just as day-drunk. I’m also not sure what that scene even did, was making the 8 so important for world building? Not to mention that “sensitive gays don’t hunt” is, in addition to everything else, extremely anachronistic. But then again, women also don’t hunt, not even with falcons, so, hey, whatever. Feminize the gay guy! Woohoo!

athena
Member
athena

There aren’t even servants! It’s totally bizarre. And I guess gay dudes don’t recklessly and valiantly volunteer to fight attainted knights who tried to kill them in the previous episode either. I forgot they cut Loras out of the episode entirely, so on the heels of the hunting scene I was absolutely mystified as to why there were only a dozen old dudes hanging out with Ned.

Ivana
Member
Ivana

This episode’s writing is actually credited to Jane Espenson (her only GoT credit). Of course, it’s hard to say what came from her and what from D&D, since we know the control they have over all the scripts. But Espenson herself is a writer whose scripts range from great to mediocre, and her biggest weakness is that sometimes she can sacrifice consistent characterization and logic for the sake of comedic effect. I’m also in the camp of “Dany’s reactions had nothing to do with loving Drogo and all to do with the fact that Viserys had threatened her and her… Read more »

Analysis

Game of Thrones 2×09 Rewatch: Best Waters

Kylie

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Welcome to the penultimate Season 2 chapter of The Wars to Come, our Game of Thrones rewatch project that for once, is going to be glowing and effervescent about HBO’s flagship program by showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss (D&D). Last week we rolled our eyes through a thoroughly modern romance and were confused at the lack of build-up to the big big battle. This week, George R.R. Martin takes up the pen for said battle “Blackwater,” and Kylie, Julia, Jana, and Griffin dig in.

Episode Recap

War is upon us! All of King’s Landing is in a tizzy as Stannis’s fleet sets sail for Blackwater Bay. In that fleet is none other than Davos Seaworth and his son Matthos. Davos knows the smallfolk of King’s Landing will hardly be glad to see them and dreads the coming battle, but Matthos is undeterred as a true believer in the Lord of Light and his ‘chosen champion’, Stannis.

Would that the people of King’s Landing have the same courage. Tyrion lies awake worrying about what seems like his certain doom, as Shae tries to comfort him. Pycelle, meanwhile, provides Cersei with poison for herself (or children) should the city fall. Bronn, on the other hand, tries to live it up in a brothel, though his mood is soon spoiled by Sandor Clegane, who points out that he’s a killer first and foremost.

The bells begin ringing as Stannis’s fleet is spotted. Varys is introduced to Pod, Tyrion’s squire, preparing the Hand in his armor. Varys shows Tyrion a map with tunnels leading out of the city should he want to flee, though Tyrion remains steadfast. Varys then reveals his loathing for magic, and thus Stannis’s devotion to the Lord of Light.

As Stannis’s fleet draws nearer, the Baratheon king orders his drummers to begin their cadence. Tyrion finds Bronn in the Great Hall and reminds him to wait until the ships are far enough in, before saying his goodbye. He also says his goodbye to Sansa, and then Shae, both of whom are in the Hall as Sansa was summoned to see Joffrey off. She does so, slightly goading him that he should be in the vanguard, before heading off to the Keep where Cersei has summoned her.

In the Keep, the highborn ladies pray, though Cersei immediately makes it clear that she hates playing host, and potentially hates everyone there. She continues to drink wine and say inappropriate things to a horrified Sansa, including how everyone is likely to get raped, how Cersei should have been born a man, how the best way to rule is with fear, and how the best weapon a woman has is seducing men. Sansa also sees that Cersei summoned the King’s Justice, Illyn Payne, to “protect everyone.” When he is ordered out for a moment to kill fleeing smallfolk, Sansa questions his role. Cersei later reveals that she intends to have Illyn Payne kill all the ladies in her protection should the battle go poorly to save them from a “worse fate.”

Meanwhile, outside, Tyrion sends just one ship to meet Stannis’s fleet. Joffrey and others are confused, though it soon becomes apparent that the ship was packed full of wildfire. Bronn waits for Stannis’s ships to get closer before shooting a flaming arrow at the ship—igniting everything around it, including the water. Hundreds of Stannis’s ships sink and men die, including Matthos Seaworth. Stannis remains undeterred, however, stating that it was a trick that could only be done once. He prepares to land, understanding the death toll in storming King’s Landing could be thousands.

Stannis targets Mud Gate, and Tyrion orders the Hound to form a “welcoming party” to fend them off. However the Hound, triggered by the fire all around him, runs off after fighting through the first wave, declaring “f-ck the King” on his way out. Lancel brings news of Stannis’s fleet having landed to Cersei, who orders him to pull Joffrey back inside. When Lancel reports this to Joffrey, he agrees to go, despite Tyrion’s protests that it will demoralize everyone else. Left with no other choice but to lead, Tyrion makes his best attempt at a battle speech before leading men through the tunnels to attack Stannis’s men at the Mud Gate by surprise.

Back inside, Lancel tells Cersei that the fighting took a turn for the worst, and Cersei storms out. Sansa calms the room, but when Shae points out that Stannis won’t hurt her whereas Illyn Payne surely will, Sansa slips out to hide in her own room. She finds Sandor there, who offers to take her home to Winterfell and keep her safe. Even though she declares that he won’t hurt her, she refuses this offer and remains in her room.

Outside, Tyrion’s surprise attack to those holding the battering ram at Mud Gate went well, earning a cheer of “Halfman” from the King’s Landing soldiers. However it is short-lived when many more soldiers of Stannis’s come racing around the bend. In the heat of battle, the kingsguard Ser Mandon Moore takes an unexpected swing at Tyrion, splitting open his face, until Pod kills the knight from behind. As Tyrion begins to lose consciousness, he sees calvary forces arrive.

Inside on the Iron Throne, Cersei tells a story to Tommen to calm him as she tries to give him poison. But luckily before he drinks any, the doors bang open. It’s Ser Loras and Tywin—the cavalry that had arrived had been a combined force of Lannisters and Tyrells. Tywin declares they won, and Stannis gets dragged away in protest by his own men.

Initial, quick reaction

Kylie: This episode is so good it makes me angry at what this show should have been. Everything I’d been saying about lack of build up to this moment…it didn’t matter. Stakes felt real here, and it was just fully engaging.

Jana: I know, right? This episode might just be the best thing the show has ever done, and it’s so frustrating!

Griffin: This episode was actually both competent and enjoyable! It was extremely surprising, and kind of what I assumed y’all meant when you said that this show “used to be good.” Y’know, like, the past 1.9 seasons were supposed to be but inexplicably weren’t, at least for me.

Jana: Honestly, I think this episode might be single-handedly to blame for many of us being fans of the show for as long as we were. It is so good. It feels like it comes from a better season than it was, too. As you said, Kylie, the lack of build up suddenly didn’t matter anymore because somehow, the episode managed to feel like it had been set-up for the entire season.

Julia: I was thinking as I was watching, this is the only episode we’ve watched so far in this rewatch that I can see myself putting on at some point in the future, just to enjoy the experience of watching it. Everything else, even very good stuff like the pilot, is too tainted by what the show’s become for me to earnestly enjoy it, even if I see it’s good qualities. This episode’s goodness stands on its own.

Highlights/lowlights

Kylie: My highlight was Cersei bein’ Cersei this episode. I just love her as a character, and god knows we never get A Feast For Crows Cersei in her finest form. This is the closest we’ll ever have, and Headey can really kill it with actual substance in her writing. Then having Sophie Turner play off of her…it was just so enjoyable all around.

There’s not many lowlights to choose from if I’m being honest—the easiest target I have is Bronn’s plucky pluckyness, but I’m thinking I’m just sick of his archetype within this show. Still, I didn’t need a solid few minutes in the brothel prior to Sandor showing up.

Jana: Same here. The scene with Bronn and Sandor was completely irrelevant to anything, and didn’t tell us anything new about the characters, except for maybe that Bronn has a nice singing voice. At least the song choice was appropriate here—and foreshadowing, kinda—unlike, say, singing The Dornishman’s Wife in the middle of Dorne. Ugh.

I also have to agree with you on the highlight. We’re missing central beats of Sansa’s characterization, sure, but goddamn those scenes were great. Though why was Shae even there if not to have Sansa vocalize her more important thoughts? Disparaging Joffrey in public is a-okay with Shae, but quietly contradicting the queen in a corner isn’t? Ah well.

Griffin: Agreed, thrice over. Cersei being shit-faced through the entire episode was both hysterical and just genuinely evocative. She’s terrifying everyone around her, throwing down life lessons about the bullshit system she and every other woman must exist in, and seems to be arguing with herself internally if she even cares or not for anything other than her own children. So great.

Lowlight had to be…wow, I’m having trouble thinking of one. That’s weird. I guess…that bit with the hound and Sansa? Because we didn’t really have the character beats from the book to actually have that make sense? I guess I was also wondering as to why anyone would be stupid enough to go fight outside the gates before they are breached. The stone walls create a natural funnel for enemies that would make maneuvering basically impossible if you killed enough of them at the door to cause a literal clog of corpses—look, this is basic warfare that applies to basically every era of ground combat. It looks cool to have sword fights on the beach, but when you pair that with the rest of Tyrion’s logical tactics and tricks it really stands out as stupid.

Julia: I think I agree that the Hound is my lowlight. Just, like, more or less everything he does with the exception of his “fuck the king” moment. That was good. The “so you think you’re a tough guy, Bronn?” thing was odd. My only comfort is that I’m quite sure I heard that the scene was put in late to satisfy the “boob quotient.” I’m gonna go with that. His little encounter with Sansa was okay…but it was no “little bird” scene from the books.

Yeah, this was pretty great.

Highlight? Wow. I mean, obviously Cersei is everyone’s highlight, but I need to point out how awesome all the stunt work and practical gore effects were. I know that Kylie had her eyes closed whenever there was blood, but trust me, they were exceptional.

The whole battle had a wonderful tone that, like, didn’t glorify violence but was also not as simple as, “this is terrible! Why can’t we all just get along.” I think they call it: nuanced.

Also a highlight: that sick beat Stannis’s drummer was laying down.

Griffin: Believe it or not, Kylie did not actually shield herself from all of the gore. And yeah, some of that was gnarly.

Kylie: It’s complicated. I knew I watched this episode before without being dizzy, so that means it’s gore I can handle. I might have anxiety or something.

Quality of writing

Julia: We never can trust ourselves with a GRRM episode, can we?

Jana: The real question is, would we still be praising this episode so much if the writing of the previous episode hadn’t been so…troubled?

Kylie: I mean juxtaposed to what we’ve gotten, it’s certainly a stark contrast. And Vanessa Taylor is just lucky we weren’t immediately coming off 2×04.

However, I honestly think it holds up by itself, mostly because it is so self-contained and character driven. It’s like we were saying: stakes to this point felt rushed and not particularly in any focus. Yet the sense of doom and what this meant for everyone was clear in what? The first ten minutes? Not to mention Sansa appears again after however many weeks of her not being around, or barely being around, and the spotlight on her still works quite well.

Yes, it’s clear it was making up for some slack. But the fact that it did so successfully actually demonstrates how much stronger it is for that, since it still has its own plot, pacing, themes (not to jump the gun), and so on.

Our 8th grade book report (on themes)

Julia: War is hell! Leadership is important and can come from unlikely places!

Kylie: Even the smallest person can change the course of the future! Those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it!

Griffin: I posit, “War: What is it good for?” With the answer being…blood and trauma. War never changes, and it’s bad. Quoting other things aside, that is it. It’s mainly the story of Davos, Tyrion, and Sansa (duh…POV characters) and the roles they play in just this horrible, horrible circumstance. Sansa and Tyrion especially parallel each other rather beautifully here.

Jana: Too bad Sansa’s part of the “unlikely leadership” theme was immediately cut short. That was a bit awkwardly paced. Other than that, yeah, all those things. The episode was pretty clear on that, and actually took some time to go into detail about how much war actually sucks for everyone, rather than just focus on the battle like the later ones do.

Cracks in the plaster (the bullshit to come)

Jana: Today on, “What even is a timeline”: Sansa has been menstruating for four episodes and through several troop movements! She should probably get that looked at. Though maybe not by Pycelle. Ew.

Kylie: Jana, she clearly stopped menstruating, got it again next cycle, and told Cersei about it off-screen. Smh at people needing their hand held for every little thing…

Griffin: All of the heavy lifting Martin had to do with the Hound and Sansa and Cersei was a little distracting, since it was an entire season’s worth of characterization, if not more, in one episode. That, and how the Battle of the Blackwater itself basically wasn’t built up like at all outside of the previous episode. Kinda feel like this looming fleet should just be gathering the entire season and it getting more and more tense, because nobody has any idea how the hell they’re going to repel that many ships?

Julia: Yeah, and there’s only so much heavy lifting he can do. There’s no way he could have had Tyrion’s chain appear from nowhere, or magic Sandor and Sansa’s relationship into existence. In fact, the restraint he showed in not having the chain pop up from nowhere as a shock, as it clearly would in season 6, say, is like someone coming to smear some plaster over the crack.

The Lannister/Tyrell alliance did totally pop from nowhere, though, didn’t it? They had Tywin leaving Harrenhal and they had LF talking to Tyrells… I guess it popped up in the books too.

Remember adaptation?

Kylie: Obviously we have GRRM himself writing this episode, but it’s still an adaptation nonetheless. I know the biggest change that garners attention in the fandom is the lack of Tyrion’s chain. To be honest, I’m skeptical how well that could have translated to a visual medium.

However, one thing I did notice was how hard Martin worked to sort of inject the same general takeaways or character beats even when the context had been written around up until this point. The best example I have is the Sansa/Sandor scene. It was like taking their all of their book interactions and distilling them into one scene, while removing any sexual overtones (which I’d call a good choice giving the actors cast). Another example would be Varys and Tyrion’s relationship (with hints to a more interesting and scrapped Varys backstory).

Jana: This is pretty much the only Sansa/Sandor scene that worked sort of like it did in the books. However, without Dontos and his plan in the picture, Sansa not going with Sandor seems like a really, really stupid choice here. Especially considering that Sandor on the show is a lot more…restrained than his book counterpart.

Griffin: I’m with Kylie on the giant chain. That would have looked extremely silly. Even if it was this massive chain-link net or something that they waved around along the edge of the walls to smash ships, I just don’t think that would have looked good. It’s the same reason Stannis isn’t wearing a helmet, yet Tyrion does: he’s easily recognizable. Stannis meanwhile isn’t exceptionally tall like Brienne, or the Hound, or the Mountain, so if he had a helmet he’d just blend in to the crowd. Well, unless they established him wearing fancy red armor for the Lord of Light or something like that. We could pick that out.

Jana: Completely unrelated, but since you brought up the helmet issue—there is a comment track by GRRM where he spends basically half the episode lecturing people on why actors, under all circumstances, should always wear helmets during battle scenes, and actually yells at Tyrion for taking his off in the end. It’s delightful. Almost as delightful as Michelle Fairley suffering through the Robb x Talisa sex scene after casually discussing kilts with Nicolaj Coster-Waldau.

And that’s why…you always keep your helmet on.

Julia: Like I was blabbing about earlier, I think the issue with the chain was less that it would look silly (though, sure, maybe it would) but more that it would be silly without it being built up and planned for the whole season, like the chain in aCoK was. At least there was some build up with the wildfire, though not nearly enough in my opinion.

I think his bravest desperate back-tracking was Sansa in Maegor’s and trying to get back to how she has an arc where she sheds idealization about being a wife and a queen in this feudal patriarchy. Other than that one scene where she gets her period (like, 2 days ago, I guess) there was very little of that this season.

Also, when did Cersei ever call Sansa stupid even once before this? I can’t remember any examples. Except maybe once Joff said Cersei said she was stupid?

Kylie: It was off-screen when Sansa told Cersei about her second period.

Martin did his best to give Sandor his aCoK arc in about 2.5 scenes too. The results were more mixed there, but at least it was nice to see him written as something other than the gruff and surly chicken meme that’s to come.

Griffin: …surly chicken? What.

Julia: Oh, sweet summer child.

Carol Watch: who is Cersei this week?

Kylie: This is the most Cersei Cersei that ever Cersei’d. And like…big shock. Martin wrote it. He mostly sticks to that until 4×02, when he shrugs and tries his hand at writing a sitcom, because why not.

Jana: I felt that maybe the fairy tale scene with Tommen had some Carol vibes to it. Whether Carol would poison precious little Tommen how did anyone ever buy the age-up three seasons from now to spare him from all the ugliness that would follow Stannis’s victory is debatable, I think.

Julia: I guess you can argue that Cersei sees her children as extensions of herself, so if she’s gonna die, it’s only right they do too?

I enjoyed drunk Cersei very much. She was just such a terrible person in every way. She has internalized misogyny! Other women are dumb and she should have been a man! Let’s tell this twelve-year-old about my seduction strategies and my odd execution fixations! MORE WINE!

Kylie: I’m just trying to envision Carol in this episode, now. Probably the women she invited to stay in the room with her would be cattily excluding her while she looked sad.

Hey, is this where Sansa is supposedly “learning a lot” from Cersei and admiring her?

Julia: I mean, it is sad. Cersei literally has no friends. Here she is thinking she’s going to be dead by morning and the only person she has to talk to is this twelve-year-old she thinks is a total dumb-dumb.

Poor Cersei!

Uh…

Exposition Imposition: good or clunky?

Jana: I felt like Davos’s son went on a bit too long summarizing what should have been established about Stannis’s forces all-throughout the season, but I guess word vomit from a young, inexperienced guy on the eve of battle can be excused. Other than that, uh, what else would count as exposition, really? The singing was basically the opposite of that, a nice song that is associated with the Lannisters that sets up the chilling end credits, but won’t be explained until Cersei and Margaery start their… thing. I suppose everything Cersei said this episode could count as exposition, but it felt pretty natural. Almost like someone competent wrote the episode or something.

Julia: Oh poor Matthos. His naivete was a little adorable. He was like Billy Bones as Dickon Tarly several years too soon.

And taken from us too soon.

I guess Cersei explaining why she invited all these dumb hens to her party counted as exposition. Although, I don’t think they’ll go back to their cocks talking about how inspiring Cersei’s drunken antics were.

How was the pacing?

Julia: Great? The episode felt half as long as I knew it was.

Kylie: I was never bored or restless. That’s a success. The only scene that had an edge of “get on with it” was the aforementioned Bronn one, but even that builds the tension of what’s coming.

Griffin: I have wondered aloud, for every single episode up until this one, how anything could be so boring and long. And yet also confusing. I didn’t feel that at all this time. I doubt I ever will again.

Jana: Nothing that wasn’t the Bronn scene felt superfluous or like it dragged everything to a halt. Focusing only on the King’s Landing theater helped a lot with that; imagine what this episode would have been like with the occasional cuts to Jon or Dany. But nothing of the sort happened, so the pacing for once felt tight as a drum and kept you on the edge of your seat. Technically. Unless you’re watching this in bed like I am, I guess.

Let’s talk about sex, baby

Kylie: Let’s see…Shae trying to bang Tyrion since he was worried about dying, and Bronn stripping the sex worker we’ve seen a few times before. I don’t begrudge either of those scenes, even if yeah, nudity was not exactly needed for the message to get across. It was the calm before the storm, with this feeling of doom hanging over everything. It felt kind of real, if I’m being honest.

Jana: I feel like they dragged the scene in the… tavern? Brothel? Wherever it is that Bronn can have a naked woman on his lap and Sandor would casually stroll into to get a drink before battle. That scene. That was the only part of the episode that had me asking myself “Why is this happening? What am I even watching?” which makes it the definitive low point of the episode, but also like, the only moment like that, which is one hell of a good quota.

Ah, well, and regarding Shae…I kind of feel like her calling Tyrion “my lion” doesn’t work as well once you’re supposed to take it at face-value rather than knowing she’s doing it because she’s paid for buttering him up. That just made that scene with them additionally cringey to me. They’re so happy and in love!

Julia: She not only calls him “my lion,” she tells him she’s going to physically protect him or something? And she’s packing. Yeah, Shae definitely has “strong female characters must be fighters” syndrome.

Cersei speaking with relish about how everyone’s going to be raped counts as sexual content, I suppose.

Kylie: That’s just Cersei bein’ Cersei. Like…actually, in this case. But I guess there’s the element of framing rape as “fate worse than death” (since she has Illyn poised to murder everyone instead) that may later lead to the sensationalized, exploitive garbage we get involving sexual violence later?

In memoriam…all those soldiers, Matthos Seaworth, Mandon Moore

Kylie: War is hell, guys. I have to be honest, it was very hard to feel much towards Matthos, since he was given two scenes and seemed kind of like a jerk. Then with Mandon Moore, I found myself wondering if Unsullied followed that. We’ve seen the Kingsguard of course, but they’ve been so heavily deemphasized to this point that I could also see a first-time viewer just thinking it was a Stannis supporter. I’m probably over-thinking it.

Julia: Yeah, I think the Kingsguard thing was one of the things GRRM was trying to quickly fix, but he can only do so much. It was kind of there in season 1 when Barry the Scary did his strip-tease, but I don’t feel like much of the mythos of the Kingsguard has come across.

That being said, they’re definitely not yet the Generic Guards™ they’ll become by season 5, when poor Arys Oakheart was swallowed by the sea and then replaced offscreen.

Poor Matthos was kind of a tool, wasn’t he?

This is GRRM writing Stannis so maybe the answer isn’t obvious, so what are we to make of the “Hundred will die!” “Thousands” thing?

Jana: …Stannis is good with estimates? I don’t know, that seemed weird to me, too. Wouldn’t Stannis be the one concerned about preserving resources aka lives?

Following who was on what side during the all-out battle scenes wasn’t easy, to be sure. Though at least sometimes there were Lannister men with red coats around, or at least I hope they were Lannisters. Given how much less they start caring about colors later on, it’s probably a good thing that most big battle scenes involve conveniently dressed wildlings and/or ice zombies. Just imagine the confusion!

Kylie: I took that line as just showing how committed Stannis is to his cause. It is damn hard to cheer for him, though.

This is where we have to cut it for this week…it really flies when there’s nice things to say. Are we overhyping it? Were there better lowlight contenders? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and we’ll close out Season 2 next week in The Wars to Come.


Images courtesy of HBO

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Analysis

I like my women… mysterious

Patrycja

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Portraying women can be hard. Making them mysterious without being grotesque or comicky is even harder. Thankfully the writers on NCIS Los Angeles got it right. Developing a group of versatile female characters with one common characteristic. All of them were mysterious.

Badass Blye

Kensi Blye is shown as a strong, independent, competent women who always fit better with the boys than the girls. Maybe because she lived with her father growing up.

Donald Blye taught her everything she needed to know as far as survival goes. In her own words he wanted a son so Kensi learned every skill a boy with a marine as a father would. She is trained in hand to hand combat, can use a knife, read tracks, rides a bike and is a sniper.

In the beginning we know very little about her. We get to know her better simultaneously to the progress of her relationship/ partnership/ thing with Deeks or when a case requires some kind of information. For instance the episodes Blye K part 1 and part 2 supply the information on why Kensi joined NCIS- so she could solve her father’s murder case. Offering us precious background on her relationships with her father and mother.

The White Ghost plot line revealed her complicated story with ex fiance Jack. During a case we learn that she lived on the streets.

Most of the information about her character is scattered in tiny bits through episodes.

The majority of her emotional growth comes from her thing with Deeks. Kensi was rather closed off and liked to keep everything bottled up before her partner came into play. It is Deeks who opens her up. He was the one who encouraged her to repair the relationship with her mother.

The relationship between the agent and detective is one of my favourite aspects of the show, in all honesty they were probably my very first ship ever, but it irks me a little that to see Kensi grow as a character she needed Deeks as a catalyst.

Although most of her character growth came from or was influenced by her relationship with the detective she has overcome quite a few hardships-the loss of her father and previous partner, the torture in Afghanistan and paralysis.

Even though the agent is portrayed as strong, loyal, kind and competent she is in no way flawless. She is stubborn, often thinks she knows better even if she doesn’t. She always has to lead and everything is a competition for her. She’s very ambitious and always has to win or be the best.

Her character needs to dominate which adds a new facet to her relationship with Deeks. It’s also one of her most annoying characteristic second only to her communication issues which caused quite an upheaval in her relationship. In her defense her partner has the same issue.

Kensi Blye can be quite the role model for ambitious women who want to have a professional career, even if she still has to grow up to have a family of her own (and there’s nothing wrong with it). Thankfully that leaves room for character development.

The intelligence analyst with spunk

Penelope ‘Nell’ Jones starts as the new mysterious kid on the block in season 2. She has some trouble fitting in with the makeshift family in the beginning. Especially since Hetty doesn’t like intelligence analysts. That could have been the reason why she came off as shy and timid. Thankfully it was just nerves. That provided a comical relieve for a short while. She quickly became a valued team member. Often crucial to solving a case.

Even though Nell was always honest while answering questions about herself we know very little about her. Especially about her family. They appeared briefly on the screen of OPS and we met one of her sisters-which was an interesting dynamic to show and play with. During that plot line Nell was portrayed and treated like the stereotypical little sister. It also showed in her behavior. I especially enjoyed how she stood up to her older sister.

Nell is whip smart and good with technology. While talking about her areas of expertise she is confident. She can also get very sassy at times. That’s one of her most endearing qualities.

What I also enjoy is that her slow burn relationship with Eric is completely different than the slow burn between Kensi and Deeks.

What’s also satisfying about it is that Nell can and did grow as a character without the relationship.

Her journey from analyst to field agent is also an interesting aspect. Her learning experience shows that she can take the lead when she knows what to do. She’s also not afraid to admit when she doesn’t know something or has questions. It shows an eagerness to lern.

The transition wasn’t always smooth sailing. Nell had quite a few mishaps along the way. She was kidnapped, had her first kill while undercover as Hetty and dealt with the aftermath of that.

Nell’s character and journey show that smart women can and will make careers in various men dominated fileds. Giving all smart girls an example how to succeed.

The tea sipping Svengali

While talking about mysterious women one simply must mention Henrietta ‘Hetty’ Lange. She’s practically the embodiment of mysterious. There are few people who really know her or even about her, if she doesn’t want them to know.

While she strives to be honest she has no problems with bending and manipulating the truth to suit her agenda. And you better believe that she always has an agenda, more or less hidden. Which is understandable since she’s the operation menager at OSP.

Hetty is a conundrum wrapped in an enigma enclosed in mystery and secrets. Of all the characters on the show she can well be the most dangerous one.

The operation menager is a skilled operator, speaks several foreign languages and has a wide net of contacts and connections in sometimes the weirdest places. She often deals in a unique currency known to all politicians… favors.

Probably one of the most impressive of her talents is the illusion that she knows all and hears all. Often foreseeing events or having people search for information that’ll be needed in the next steps of an investigation, while her team didn’t get to that clue yet. In her own words, she’s a fast reader. Leaving her seemingly omnipotent.

While I understand that she can’t disclose all the information to her team on everything. It started to really annoy me how she manipulates the other team members like chess pieces. Although she herself states that she rather than moving pieces moves boards. Her constant intrusions and plotting got to much for me with the White Ghost story line.

She justifies her actions with the good of the team or mission but I find hard to believe after the 5th season. She played God in the lives of the other team members to many times.

One can’t deny that she’s skilled, patriotic and has great accomplishment. On the other hand she seems to dodge any consequences to her actions and her mistakes often go unpunished. Even her supervisors can’t or won’t control her letting her run everything as she pleases. Which is one of the reasons why I started to dislike her character.

Hetty is the perfect example of a brilliant dictator distinguished as an older motherly figure to a bunch of talented operators, that runs her show silently enjoying the outcomes. We all should be happy that she never decided to cross over to the dark side.

Perhaps portraying women isn’t as hard as I thought.


Images courtesy of CBS

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Dragonstalled Part 1: Revolutionary Ruin

Julia

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Someone tell the story, someone sing a song. Every now and then a love story, comes out a little wrong. Every now and then emotions, fail to seem real strong. Doesn’t change the story—they’re stringing us along. Doesn’t change the cliché.

Hello and welcome to the big one: the Season 7 retrospective piece for Game of Thrones that we (Julia and Kylie, known as “Julie”) have been procrastinating to write. Because while it’s certainly the main event, it’s also the one that’s most devoid of content.

That’s right, we’re talking about the plotlines that center on Dragonstone, or “The Abandoned Island of Sexual Tension” as we’ve dubbed it, with the three main characters of David Benioff and Dan Weiss (D&D)’s show. As usual, we’ve decided to watch and analyze just this one plotline, so that we can truly unpack the masterful narrative crafted by these two titans of the industry. And masterful it must be, as its netted them a record-breaking 26 Emmy nominations.

For anyone who didn’t have the pleasure of watching this season of Game of Thrones, Julie is here to sum up what happened for you the only way she knows how to cope: with a ~~high level~~ humorous recap. The more serious analysis that yes, will cut out the nicknames (we promise), is going to be in Part 2, discussing the arcs of Queen Daenerys, Tyrion the Hand, and King Jon. King Snow? Well that doesn’t seem right!

And in fact, it won’t be for the time being, as this is how Julie thinks of the characters:

The Players

And also featuring…

Please note that Faullaria and the Sand Fakes rule in a wacky, hedonistic place known as “Porne,” and the leader of the Army of the Dead is “Shogun.” If any other names confuse you, or you’d like a fuller explanation of the Extreme Cleverness behind these jokes, we direct you to the world-famous Book Snob Glossary.

And now you’re armed with lingo, and ready sit back as we present a…

It’s Tough to be King

Things start off with our romantic male lead, King Jonny Cardboard, First of his Name, King in the North, chairing what looks to be an incredibly unruly meeting. No one’s even taking notes, and it seems as though the king didn’t once talk to his advisor (?)/sister(?)/lady of his castle(?)/heir(?) ahead of time.

Jon just wants to focus on the war that’s coming and on his social program of promoting gender equality. He asks the Wind-Vane Lords to turn in any dragonglass they might have, and explains to them that their daughters will be fighting along with their sons. They all clutch their pearls and yell, “But magically appearing patriarchy!” “Patriarchy is smashed,” Little Lyanna Mormont declares. She speaks last and with great force, so everyone agrees with her.

Yeah! F-ck army provisions!!

Jonny is also very concerned about shoring up defenses, because he’s read the script and knows the Army of the Dead will breach the Wall this season. In fairness, we guess his concern is totally justified. Jonny’s first act is to protect the Wall in declaring that the Wildlings, led by Beardy (we think), will be manning it now. It’s actually kind of thematically apt! Also probably useless, since only about 20 of their people survived the Battle of Bastards before the Vale Lords came to bail them out.

However, the real question is what to do with the castles of UMBER and KARSTARK. Though Jonny gets some great suggestions such as “tear apart the establishments brick-by-brick” and “reward them to people loyal to you,” he decides to grant them instead to children liege lords, because we can’t punish children for their fathers’ crimes. This is…not dumb, certainly, but also not smart.

Brittany tells Jonny as much outside, but Jonny is more upset that she dared second-guess his decision in front of the Wind-Vane Lords. Maybe you two could have gotten on the same page beforehand and this wouldn’t have been an issue? Brittany apologizes for Jonny’s hurt feelings, but insists that he needs to be smarter than past Stark family members who were apparently all big dumb-dumbs. But wait, wouldn’t that mean he’d have to listen to her suggestions?

Turns out she might have a point, since they receive a threatening letter from Cheryl, demanding that he bends the knee. Jonny dismisses it though, saying it’s wintertime and she won’t come North. When Brittany remains worried, Jonny tells her that it sounds like she admires Cheryl. Uh.

Elsewhere, Deadpan Stormborn, after sailing for an undisclosed amount of time, reaches shore. There, she finds Abandoned Island with an abandoned castle. She opens the doors and walks through it. “Shall we begin?”

Deadpan Begins

Now it’s time for the romantic leading lady to have a staff meeting of her own, since these characters are so beautifully paralleled. To be fair, this one is a lot better run, and Missandei has a perfect memory, so that basically counts as note-taking. It’s also slightly better-written because this is a Bryan Cogman episode.

In fact, it really is noticeable, since there’s about five minutes of exposition making up for everything D&D never bothered to explain. Like, Deadpan Stormborn being born in a storm. In Weisseroff, not some foreign land mind you. (But who would ever hold that against her? That’d be silly.)

Deadpan doesn’t like Abandoned Island. She needs more sexual tension in it. Also, apparently all the Lords don’t like Cheryl, as is explained to us by Saint Tyrion and Varys Marx. She only controls half the Kingdom thanks to Deadpan’s alliance with Porne, The Dowager Sasstress, and Yara, so taking out Cheryl should be easy. But not too easy, because there’s two seasons left.

“Conquering Westeros would be easy for you, but you’re not here to be Queen of the Ashes.” —Tyrion, “Stormborn”

Reasonable. Deadpan takes this opportunity to finally ask Varys about that time he tried to have her killed. What’s up with that? It’s almost like he had totally different motivations in Season 1 than he does now. Varys shrugs and basically explains that he was trying to murder her for the good of the people, which she calls bull on. But he chooses her now, because of her stunning charisma and revolutionary social-justice platform?

We don’t have any answer, but Deadpan says that he can hang, as long as he tells her to her face if she’s ever failing to be the ideal Dictator of the Proletariat. Also if he fails or betrays her, she’s going to burn him alive. Even more reasonable!

As is her wont, a wild Meli-sans-bra Meli-sans-plot pops up. She’s doing her civic duty by telling Deadpan that she liked the whole slavery bustin’ thing. This is good practice, guys. Call your elected representatives when you like what they do, too.

This also gives Varys Marx an open shot to point out how she served Stannis. Hey Varys, remember when we just discussed you serving Robert? Deadpan remembers and shuts him up with that. Then Mel awkwardly brings up “the prince that was promised,” and Missandei even more awkwardly decides it’s a great time to discuss issues in translations when some languages have gendered nouns and others don’t. It’s The Last Jedi plural debate all over again!

Also, Mel isn’t really that into Deadpan. She’s a fan of King Jonny, which she tells them. This apparently informs Tyrion that Jon Snow is the King in the North, and maybe he should reach out to him. What did they think was happening there? Log onto Weisseroffi Twitter like everyone else, jeeze! Cheryl already sent him mail.

Fortunately for Team Deadpan, Tyrion’s own letter travels through a wormhole to reach Jonny and Brittany in no time at all. They discuss it while observing a co-ed archery lesson. Brittany thinks it’s obviously a trap, and even folksy ol’ Davos notes Tyrion’s humble-brag about Deadpan’s massive army and dragons. But Brittany points out what an unproblematic fave Tyrion is. Also hey, could dragon fire be used on wights? Imagine the possibilities!

Speaking of those possibilities, apparently one thing that isn’t on the table is dragons being used in a battle to defeat enemies. Because that is really, really bad optics. You see, Deadpan has gathered all her allies so that Tyrion can tell them her battle plan: divide your troops for…reasons.

They clearly can’t attack Cheryl’s Landing with one surgical strike that’d take maybe an hour, because that might scare the smallfolk. A much better option is to lay siege to it for months, and possibly years, slowly starving all of its inhabitants. Then they’ll really love Deadpan, along with the Pornish and Ironboors now tasked with besieging them. They just need to swing by Porne for some duel-wielding troops. Meanwhile, the Unsullied won’t just sit on their hands—oh no. They’re going to circumnavigate Weisseroff so that they can sack Casterly Castle, the most important strategic stronghold, obviously.

Deadpan thinks this is great. She’s not here to be queen of the ashes. Faullaria grins evilly in agreement. Yara is speechless in admiration for Tyrion’s brilliance. Theon is also there. Deadpan dismisses everyone but the Dowager Sasstress Olenna who tells her that all men are idiots, and if she wants to win, she just needs to “be a dragon.” Um. Tangibly, what does that entail? Is this her way of criticizing Tyrion’s plan? Could she have like, said something? Or is she just being some sour grapes?

Only book readers will get THAT one! Zing!

Elsewhere on The Abandoned Island of Sexual Tension, the couple who we don’t understand being not the romantic focus this year, Grey Worm and Missandei, have meaningful, tasteful, sex. Then they never interact for the rest of the season, despite the reason for said sex being fear of losing one another. The end!

Speaking of endings, Jonny received a letter that Sam just remembered about the dragonglass on Dragonstone, which reminds Jonny that he had been told about the dragonglass on Dragonstone in Season 5. This makes us distressingly nostalgic for a time when there was at least a facade of logic.

This makes up Jonny’s mind for him: trap or no trap, he must go to Dragonstone himself to meet with the queen there, and ask for dragonglass. He informs literally everyone of this in the Great Hall, again not giving his sister forewarning. …Half-sister. The Wind-Vane Lords rabble rabble about this call, and Brittany again has to patiently point out the risks, especially given the last two (or three, kinda) times a Stark went south. She also points out that he could send an emissary, like kings do, but he refuses. Only a king can convince a queen to help. We’re pretty impressed. Not with what Jonny is saying, but that Brittany manages to hear it without thudding her head into the table below.

It’s all okay though, because he’s leaving her as the regent. Which he also springs on her in front of the entire audience. The Wind-Vane Lords seem chill with that. What amazing leadership.

Speaking of people who are amazingly good at their job, Littlefinger. We’re not even sure what his job technically is right now, but he at least still makes a buck or two by being Bryan Cogman’s part-time exposition mouthpiece. He finds Jonny in the crypts and after telling him about the delivery of Ned’s bones, launches into a touching speech about how much he is into Jonny’s female relatives. Jonny attacks him and slams him against a wall. You don’t touch his property!

Then Jonny leaves with like, three dudes. Brittany waves goodbye. We’re sure it’s going to be smooth sailing for her. Let’s hope there’s no horrifying family reunions coming down the pike.

Though Julie plans to cover in great detail the Pornish and Ironboor ship movements in a future retrospective, it is important to note that they get attacked by Eurovision Greyjoy, and they all die or get captured. Sucks to be Deadpan.

Dems da berries!

Worst Laid Plans

Deadpan may have just lost 35% of her allies, but she’s about to get a new one! That’s right, Jonny made it to The Abandoned Island of Sexual Tension, and takes his ONE kingly rowboat ashore.

Thankfully, there’s a welcome party to acclimate him to this beach resort business conference.

The first thing Jonny does is surrender all his weapons when Missandei asks him to. “Of course,” he answers her, almost apologetically. Dude, you’re a king. He and Tyrion are super folksy and happy to see each other. Tyrion makes sure to explain that he didn’t tamper with his property have sex with Brittany, and Jonny is like, “I didn’t ask.” They then both marvel at how they got into the positions they’re in. A Lannister as a Hand to a Targaryen —completely unprecedented!

Jonny then also admits that the Wind-Vane Lords had misgivings about his trip. Tyrion agrees, saying he would have advised against it, too. Then Drogon dramatically divebombs the party.

Above the procession, Meli-sans-plot and Varys watch. Varys Marx doesn’t like Mel much, and keeps trying to stir up drama by basically threatening to tell Jonny that she is there. However, she’s just a shipper. She brought ice and fire together, so she’s done here. Time to jet off to Essos. She tells Varys Marx that she’ll be back for Season 8, and they’ll probably both die. Thrilling.

And boy do ice and fire have instantly crackling chemistry. Jonny is brought into Deadpan’s Throne Room, where her titles are listed. Davos is so hilariously folksy that he just goes, “This is Jon Snow. He’s King in the North.” Oh man, now Deadpan looks like an egotistical jerk! It’s not made better by the fact that she refers to Jonny as “Lord.” When Davos corrects her, she explains that she read the World of Ice and Fire and knows about Torrhen Stark kneeling.

What follows is then an entirely cyclical argument about whether Jonny kneeling is appropriate. The answer seems to be, “nah.” He doesn’t have time for kneeling with the Army of the Dead approaching! Davos nearly slips up and tells the room that Jonny was dead once, too.

The conversation ends with nothing decided. Also Jonny is kind of a prisoner, or at least in a state where he’s able to formally become one at any moment. Who could have seen that coming!?

Jonny: Am I your prisoner?

Deadpan: Not yet.

Also in the realm of “who could have seen that coming,” Varys arrives with news that the brilliant plan of splitting up Deadpan’s forces backfired.

Later outside, Jonny broods. Tyrion finds him and comments on his brooding, because he’s in the fandom and likes memes. He also tries to talk about the Greyjoy attack, but Jonny’s all upset that no one wanted to listen to him about dead people attacking. Then he realizes it might sound slightly outlandish. You don’t say! Tyrion politely gives him a lesson in governance, explaining that fighting the army of the dead was too big an ask. Jonny, slow on the uptake, takes that as an opportunity to talk about how he’s not learning from his father’s mistakes.

“Everyone told me to learn from my father’s mistakes. Don’t go south. Don’t answer a summons from the Mad King’s daughter, a foreign invader. And here I am, a Northern fool.”

Ignoring that Deadpan is not foreign, and it was his grandfather and uncle that rode south on Targaryen summons, Tyrion wisely points out that children are not their fathers. Definitely not Tyrion Lannister in any way. But also not Deadpan, who protects people from monsters, just like Jonny. So again, is there anything smaller he can ask that will help against these monsters? Perhaps the one thing that only a king could ask her for in the first place, according to Jonny Logic?

Tyrion then has to go give Deadpan a governance lesson. Since she could not give fewer than no craps when asked about the dragonglass, Tyrion explains that she should let the dumb-dumb dig in the rocks for a little, since it costs her nothing and she just lost some allies. Deadpan seems fine with that, but wants to know what was up with Davos saying he took a knife to the heart. Weird, right?

Emboldened by Tyrion’s wise words, Deadpan goes and chats with Jonny. They both have brothers. How many, they’re not entirely sure. Also, Deadpan says that people thought dragons were gone forever, but they’re not, so maybe assumptions about zombie armies are wrong too. Jonny realizes she’s only saying this because she spoke with Tyrion. They have another circular conversation about kneeling, but it ends this time with her letting him poke in the rocks for a bit (and even providing him with her own men to do so). Jonny wants to know if this means she believes him about zombies. She gives a noncommittal answer.

Also, we failed to note this, but apparently that scene was dripping with sexual tension. Just…somewhere in there…

Later, in the episode that will not f-cking end, Deadpan has another war council, since Euron’s ships could be “anywhere or in more than one place.” With this ambiguity, and the great loss she just suffered, she wants to go burn the ships with her dragons. Everyone jumps on this and points out how crazy it is, since she could get shot with an arrow on the back of the dragon.

Was this just like, not a concern during the Battle of Mereen? Did she have a close call we didn’t see? Are there no armorers on Dragonstone? Could she try spraying her body with the same heavy-duty stuff she sprays in her hair? Just our thoughts.

But no, they’re sticking with Tyrion’s dumb plan to sack Casterly Castle by sea. And it’s an attack by voice-over, as the brilliant Hand narrates his brilliant plan: they’re going to use his secret sex worker tunnels that he had built when his father erected the castle, apparently. Luckily, the Unsullied have lots of experience sneaking through sewers at this point. However, his voiceover failed to predict how cunning Larry Lannister was by pulling the Lannister troops out of Casterly Castle and running across the map to sack Highgarden off-screen.

The Dowager Sasstress sure was shocked. Then she wolfs down some poison Larry offers her while we watch with envy. Bye!

But it’s worse! Euron’s ships magically appeared at Casterly Castle to burn the Unsullied ships. Now they have to trek across Weisseroff to get home. It will probably take them all season. To, you know, walk to the island.

Dragons Change the Calculations

The next episode opens with poor Missandei worrying to Deadpan about whether or not her boyfriend survived Tyrion’s dumb plan. However, there’s no room for actual emotional resonance, so Deadpan high-fives her about getting laid instead.

Speaking of no room for actual emotional resonance, Jonny shows up and has something he needs Deadpan to see. He leads her into the caves where he’s mining dragonsglass on a poorly lit set, and proudly shows her his finger-painting project. Errr, we mean, it was totally the Children of the Forest’s project, and they conveniently drew their battle against the White Walkers that they fought alongside humans.

Who wouldn’t be convinced?

Deadpan is in awe of this and short of breath. Or else, she’s out of shape and/or turned on by Jonny. It mostly comes across as out of shape. Compelled by the way the Children and Men put aside their differences, she says she will fight alongside him…if he bends the knee. He’s pretty chill with it, but he thinks his Wind-Vane Lords won’t be. Dude, just get Lyanna on-board. Or speak last, aided by swelling music. They’re easy sells.

Deadpan asks him if everyone’s survival is more important than his pride. We suppose her pride is irrelevant?

Outside the Cave of Wonders, Deadpan receives even more war news. This time, she’s so pissed off about Casterly Castle that she doesn’t even care if Jonny and Davos overhear it. Everyone kind of shuffles around awkwardly.

Apparently, Cheryl took “all the food” from the Unsullied ships, and all the provisions at Casterly Castle were destroyed, so her Unsullied are in a pickle. Tyrion is still into his blockade plan for reasons we don’t understand. The Pornish and Ironboor who were supposed to be doing that blockade are now dead, and Cheryl just scored a bunch of food for her city, so who is exactly enforcing that and how?

For these reasons, or just impatience, Deadpan points out again that she has a dragon and could just kill Cheryl. Right now. Tyrion tells her it’s still bad optics. Then for absolutely no reason we can think of, Deadpan asks Jonny what he’d do. Maybe it’s because they’re in love already.

Jonny says that if she uses a dragon to attack the city, it’ll be “just more of the same.”

Unlike that radical, system-changing blockade, of course.

This gives Deadpan another idea, somehow.

An undisclosed amount of time later, Jonny and Davos are goin’ for a walk and talk. Davos tells Jonny that he’s been looking at Deadpan’s boobs. Jonny points out she’s wearing the thickest battle dresses known to man, but cool. Then he awkwardly words a question about how many men they have in the North so that Davos can correct his grammar. Callback!

The important takeaway here is that Davos thinks Jonny needs to get laid, and that it will make him less grumpy. Of course, it could also just be projecting, since he seems to then quasi-flirt with a very dignified and professional Missandei. She’s probably used to this, as tour guide of this business resort. She deflects by extremely inorganically talking about bastard naming conventions and how she used to be a slave.

The whole thing becomes uncomfortable, and reminds us of a North Korean tour guide talking about how wonderful the Dear Leader is. Deadpan is the best, you see, and would totally give Missandei a ship to go home if she didn’t want to be there. But she does. Because Deadpan is the best. She once played golf and got 18 holes-in-one. This is pretty convincing to Jonny, though. Deadpan protects people from monsters, just like him!

Theon Strayboy suddenly washes up on shore, and Jonny greets him, since that’s clearly his place now. Jonny says he would kill Theon on the spot if it hadn’t been for Brittany putting in a good word. Theon asks for Deadpan, but “the queen is gone.” Where is she?

Well, she’s burning the “loot train.” Meaning she takes her dragons and her Dothraki, teleports them to the mainland—all her ships burned, if you recall—and has them attack the Lannisters marching back to Cheryl’s Landing with gold and provisions. Oh good, she’s going to try and take the food back, right?

Uh…

Oh, did we say gold? Nah, it’s already safely inside Cheryl’s Landing.

There’s a small moment of drama when Drogon gets hit with a big arrow from a big crossbow, but he recovers pretty easily. Then some idiot on a horse charges Deadpan, only to be saved at the buzzer by another idiot. Tyrion watches them from a hill and calls them “idiots” in case we missed the idiocy.

Gumbo Recipe

Well, it looks like dragons are a really effective thing to use in a military campaign! However Tyrion is bummed out about this, since there’s now a lot of burned corpses. If only they had been given the opportunity to starve to death in a besieged Cheryl’s Landing.

There were a few survivors, who oddly zombie-walk over to where Deadpan is standing with Drogon on a hill.

We wonder if Ed Sheeran made it.

Luckily for them, Deadpan is not here to murder, as she explains on the battlefield of corpses. What she’s here to do is break the wheel and reform the world. Step 1: they need to swear allegiance to her as absolute monarch. Oh, and “refuse and die.” Which is somehow…not murder? They begin to bend the knee; then Drogon roars, terrifying them all to bend even quicker. Great optics! What a real choice they had!

Only Randyll “Wildling Hater” Tarly remains standing, because he already has a queen. “Oh, the one who murdered your other queen, Margaery?” Tyrion asks. There’s no easy choices, though. And he really hates “foreigners” like Deadpan. So Cheryl wins by default in his scale of honor.

Which, of course, is a good way of reminding us that honor gets you killed, as Deadpan points out to him.

“Will you not trade your honor for your life?”

Well not when you put it like that, ya dill weed.

Tyrion is suddenly distressed by the elimination of political enemies, and suggests allowing Randyll to take the Black. But Randyll, who is very determined to die at this point, disputes the legality of such an order. “Only a queen can send a lord to the Wall, and the Tarlys know no queen but the queen in the south, whose name is CHERYL!”

However, things get a little weird when his sonion Dickon also says he’s going to die with his dad. Randyll suddenly gets very upset, because apparently he had been hoping Dickon would kneel to Deadpan and keep his life, we guess. So what is the point of Randyll protesting?

Tyrion tries once more, suggesting that the Tarlys get taken prisoner. Who doesn’t love political prisoners? You can exchange them for money, and use that money to buy provisions for your slowly marching army. You could also force them to marry a relative. So many options! “I’m not here to put people in chains.” Uh. Is Deadpan seriously equating a prisoner to a slave? Also why couldn’t she just stick them in a nice tower somewhere? Or let them wander around her abandoned island like her current prisoner, Jonny. No chains needed!

But clearly with all options exhausted, Deadpan roasts the Tarly boys alive. Tyrion seems disturbed by this. D&D say the audience should make up their own minds about who’s right here.

Back on The Abandoned Island, Jonny is still standing on a cliff brooding. Deadpan swoops in on Drogon, who decides to say hi to the King in the North teeth-first. Jonny whips off a glove and puts it on the dragon’s nosey. Deadpan is so amazed, her face muscles move! Or maybe she just thinks from her vantage point that Drogon ate him.

We’re sure it’s fine.

Once she dismounts, Jonny asks her how it went, and also seems disturbed that this leader of an army who is trying to depose the current ruler has killed some opposing troops. Deadpan points out that he just killed a bunch of Boltons, like last week, so maybe he should chill with the judgement. Then she asks again about the whole “were you dead” thing. Jonny says Davos exaggerates. What a bold-faced lie! At least the inability to lie surely won’t become a defining character-feature at a crucial time for Jonny.

Speaking of bold faces, Jorah arrives with his magically free of greyscale. Good thing Sam figured out the magic powers of exfoliation. All things considered, Deadpan is rather casual about this improbable cure, even if the answer was just a good pumice stone.

Jonny introduces himself and mentions that Jorah’s father once existed, back when this show was reasonably watchable. Then Jorah and Deadpan hug. Jonny gets a poo-face, because he’s so jealous with all the love he developed in the past two episodes.

Elsewhere, D&D make up their minds about who was right in Deadpan’s previous decision. At least, we assume so because Tyrion and Varys Marx are sitting in front of the…Sedimentary Rock Throne, wringing their hands about all the warning signs around them that Deadpan is Aerys 2.0. Have they been hanging out on Westeros.org forums? We bet they get along with Arya pretty well.

Tyrion tries to absolve himself from guilt of this clearly heinous crime, while Varys says that’s exactly what he used to tell himself while serving Aerys. “It’s not me.” No Varys, you’re as pure as driven snow and would never cut the tongues out of children for your own purposes. Tyrion says that Deadpan isn’t her father, and Varys agrees…so long as she listens to her men advisors. Specifically, Tyrion. Boy, it’s an even harder quest that Varys just set for him this time!

Varys then awkwardly holds up the scene transition. It’s a letter from Branbot 1000 to Jonny. Apparently Jonny thought he was dead, despite having been told by Sam that he wasn’t. And despite telling Deadpan that he lost two brothers rather than three, unless he also forgot about Rickon. Or Robb.

The letter explains that the Army of the Dead was coming. What brand new information! He decides he needs to jet off home and “fight with the men we have.” That went so well for you last time!

Actually, it did go well because he had a woman to bail his stupid ass out. We wonder if that will happen again…

Not so easily, because Deadpan can’t just come with him. Not only are there more possible stray arrows, but it would mean “giving the country” to Cheryl. Because she has oh so many strongholds to lose at this point. Hell, if she went North and made nice with Brittany, she could probably still work out something for Karhold.

We should note, this entire conversation is taking place with Jorah and Davos and Tyrion all around too. Upon hearing this dilemma, Tyrion gets the brilliant idea that if only Cheryl knew about the army of the dead in a way she couldn’t deny, then she’d totally agree to not “take the country” from Deadpan, who is clearly holding it in the first place. Then again, is Cheryl? Didn’t all those Lannister troops just die? We actually have no idea what the military situation is in any quantifiable or tangible way. Who the hell is ruling Porne right now?

But more about Tyrion’s wonderful plan: bring the dead to her! Damn, if only Jeor Mormont had thought to send someone down south with the hand Jonny cut off a wight in Season 1, maybe none of this would have happened.

However, everyone knows Cheryl is an unreasonable woman, unlike everyone on Team Deadpan. She’d never listen to Tyrion. But Larry might, and she might listen to Larry. So clearly what needs to happen is Davos smuggling Tyrion into Cheryl’s Landing to meet with Larry in a meeting that’s arranged telepathically via Bronn, and then Larry will pass this information along, and they can set up a wight moot, at which they can present Cheryl with a freshly captured wight.

But wait…who captures the wight? Jorah volunteers and Deadpan moves even more face muscles. Jonny then volunteers himself as a one-up, and because he’s the “only one who’s fought them and knows them.” Ouch, Beardy.

Deadpan balks at this, because she wanted to bang clearly cares for him so deeply, but apparently he doesn’t need her permission, being a king. You see, it was really generous of him to march his face into yet another trap, and she should appreciate how willing he was to become her prisoner. She oddly seem to respect that. Let’s call it “growth.”

This officially kicks off Operation Gumbo. First stop, Cheryl’s Landing, with Davos and Tyrion in a rowboat. They park on a random shore. Rather than guard the boat, Davos says that he has gumbo-related business of his own. “What if someone takes the boat?” Tyrion asks. “Then we’re f-cked,” Davos quite literally says. Okay! It’s not like the fate of humanity hinges on this. No seriously, it’s not like that.

Luckily for Tyrion, Bronn is a true bro to all Lannister men, and arranges the secret meeting. Larry gets very mad when he realizes he was lured into a room with Tyrion, but Tyrion has his hat in his hands and no reason at all to be upset with Larry himself.

Nope, we’re still not over it.

Well, no one else does.

Tyrion attempts lame smalltalk about the nonsensical military strategy that has become all of Season 7, but Larry isn’t interested since Tyrion did kill their father. “What do you want?” If only we knew. Tyrion then points out that Deadpan is going to win. Like it’s so obvious, and she can have Drogon munch up Cheryl in one surgical strike at any minute. You know, if not for the optics. But Deadpan may be willing to “suspend hostilities” because of a “more important request.” The scene cuts before Larry reacts at all.

We must be going to something very important to have not seen the conclusion of that conversation. And important it is! Davos wanders to the same exact armor shop Gendry worked in during Season 1 to…find Gendry there again!

Okay, pause. 1.) Gendry? 2.) Why would the blacksmith have even taken him back? Wasn’t his life threatened? 3.) Gendry? Just..why? He really wanted his old life back? The danger had all been imagined? Cheryl lost interest in Robert-bastards?

As it turns out, Davos is a huge Game of Thrones fan, and loves the Gendry rowing meme. That’s why he came back to find him! Gendry, meanwhile, has embraced the fact that he’s Robert Baratheon’s illegitimate son, because who wouldn’t have wanted that guy as a father, especially given how present he was in Gendry’s life. He even made himself a warhammer, just like Pa! The antlers helm is on-deck, we guess.

Davos then asks Gendry if he wants to go on an adventure. Gendry up and Bilbo’s.

And that takes us to the most crucial scene of this whole plotline, packed with meaning and narrative necessity.

Gendry and Davos are waiting at the boat for Tyrion, but oh no! It’s two members (and only two) of the City Watch. How will they get out of this pickle?

Well, speaking of fermentation, the answer to that is a giant open basket of pickled crab meat that Davos had hidden under a blanket, presumably for this exact situation since it’s such a great cover story. You see, there’s been no mention of brothels for about five minutes, so this was the perfect place. Davos tells the idiots that he’s selling fermented crab meat, as it gives people instant boners. He offers a sample and then tells them they’re going to bust through their metal pants in about five minutes. He also bribes them or whatever. Inflation sucks.

Just as they turn to go off and get their erections that totally happen from fermented seafood, Tyrion turns up. Oh no, he’s the most recognizable dwarf in the world! Literally! Especially with his giant facial scar. So of course he sighs and walks straight at them, passing by several bushes he could have at least ducked behind or something. They spot him in the wide-open. Gendry kills them with his hammer. End scene.

We need more Gendry, so the next scene is Davos preparing him for who he’s going to encounter on the Abandoned Island of Sexual Tension. He says he must not tell anyone who he is. Gendry then meets Jon and immediately introduces himself as his dad’s best friend’s son. And they’re both bastards! What a world! Jon invites him north, because he is some SPICE for this gumbo.

Then we get a lovely, drawn-out, “preparing to leave sequence” where we can feel ourselves aging. Jorah gets a significant goodbye with Tyrion, where the reminisce about that time they were slaves for five minutes. Tyrion even kept a souvenir coin of Significance™, which he gives to Jorah for luck! Now it’s time to say goodbye to Deadpan. “Well Your Highness, I guess this is it,” he tells her. “That’s right,” she answers, shockingly moving her face. Then they point out that they have said goodbye to each other a number of times, usually in the context of “get your creepy stalker butt out of here.” Awww. Jonny watches with poo face.

Then Jonny says goodbye, and the sexual chemistry is off the charts. We will be devastated if they never see each other again. Gosh this gives us buy-in to this mission.

Show this in high schools to promote abstinence.

Some amount of time later—long enough for the King in the North to breeze past the North—the gumbo roux arrives to meet their proteins at Eastwatch. Interestingly this naval base of the Night’s Watch doesn’t have a harbor. Weird stuff.

Beardy greets them, and gets mad at Davos for not talking Jonny out of this obviously terrible plan. But mostly for not bringing Brienne because he likes her. We’re in stitches.

Davos then tells everyone he can’t go out there with them, because he aged, or he has 4 shortened fingers, or something. Why did he come then?

But hey, in his free time, Beardy has been imprisoning travelers to Eastwatch, since The Night’s Watch has a zero-tolerance policy for…people. He leads Jonny to a cell where Sandor and the Brotherhood without Banners with Vague Continuity are locked up. They play this very silly game where they find out that everyone knows each other already. Jonny recognizes Sandor from Winterhell. Gendry recognizes the Brotherhood who sold him into slavery. Jorah recognizes Thoros from the Greyjoy rebellion (where Larry led the charge). Tormund hears the name “Mormont” and recognizes that Jorah is the son of the guy who led the Night’s Watch. Beric sits back and is all like, “OMG, what are the odds, guys?”

So they all jump in a soup pot together and form the dramatically satisfying character gumbo that sets out beyond The Wall. With no hats.

Vincent Expendable’s Very Long Day

Oh god, how do we even talk about this?

The gumbo elements break off into various pairs, or sometimes small groups, and talk. In the background are about 5 men that we’ve never seen before and who aren’t addressed in any way, who silently lug around the junk of the characters we recognize. There. We saved you 50 minutes.

No, seriously, this is what happens:

  • Jonny asks Gendry if he’s okay because he’s the only member of the party with a hood on
  • Beardy laughs at Gendry for being cold and wanting to wear a hat. Then he calls him “dumb” to Jonny
  • Beardy and Jonny talk about how Jonny won’t kneel to Deadpan because he had a taste for the free folk lifestyle, but also Mance was a terrible king for not kneeling (?)
  • The Brotherhood With Vague Continuity can’t understand why Gendry doesn’t just put it behind him that they sold him to a crazy lady who sexually assaulted and tried to kill him
  • Sandor tells Gendry he’s “whinging” for being upset about his sexual assault
  • Jonny and Jorah talk about how honorable Jeor was, Jonny offers Jorah Longclaw for some reason, and Jorah rejects it while also giving Jonny permission to have sex with Deadpan

Then we cut to another plotline only to come back to:

  • Beardy and Sandor talk about gingers, synonyms for schlongs, and #nohomo
  • Beric and Jonny talk about both having been dead. Jonny quotes his Night’s Watch vows that he gave up on

Then they arrive at Mt. Arrowhead, the mountain fire-reader Sandor saw in the flames as being the place where the army of the dead is. Don’t worry, we’ll have a 10k word analysis on the intense meaning of that development in our final retrospective.

What an improbable mountain shape!

Back on the Abandoned Island of Sexual Tension, Deadpan and Tyrion are getting day-drunk. Deadpan talks about how she likes that Tyrion isn’t a hero, because bravery, like honor, is for dumb-dumbs. Tyrion tells her Jonny is in love with her because he stares at her boobs. Deadpan says he’s too short. Deadpan, that’s quite insensitive.

Then they talk about Wight Moot strategy. You see, Deadpan needs to break that wheel, so they’re going to show up with their full army so that if she is killed, then Cheryl’s Landing burns. They’re expecting Cheryl to be super deceitful, but they will be morally upright, because that’s how they break that wheel. Also, two armies and three dragons. And honor!

Deadpan kind of calls bull on all of this, pointing out that all war is inherently violent, but Tyrion did promise both Larry and Varys to restrain this hysterical woman, so he scolds her for losing her temper with Tarly. “That was not impulsive. That was necessary,” she tells him. Yet he continues to explain to her about her ~vision~ and how she must preserve it in the manner of a father explaining to his five-year-old why she shouldn’t throw plates at Denny’s.

“You need to take your enemy’s side if you’re going to see things the way they do. And you need to see things the way they do if you’re going to anticipate their actions, respond effectively, and beat them. Which I want you to do very much. Because I believe in you and the world you want to build. But the world you want to build doesn’t get built all at once.”

Then he mentions the line of succession…

…and how as a hereditary monarch (or Dictator of the Proletariat?), she needs to think about who she wants to follow her. Deadpan gets weirdly paranoid and says he’s planning to replace her. Tyrion defends it by saying he’s thinking about the long-term, but she points out that his fakakta plan cost them everything, so maybe he needs to think about the short-term.

Speaking of short-term, we’re back for even more with the gumbo.

  • Now they’re in a blizzard
  • Look! A wight bear! Gendry sees its eyes from like 200 meters away
  • A bear! A bear! All white and wight and covered in hair! It takes absolutely forever. It kills one of the extras schlepping the sled.
  • Beric lights it on fire, and Sandor is scared, so Thoros saves him. Jorah finishes it with a dagger smaller than the one Tyene used on Hotah. It must be DRAGONGLASS from DRAGONSTONE!
  • Thoros’s wounds get cauterized

New scene.

  • Jorah asks Thoros how drunk he was during the breach on Pyke. Blackout, apparently.
  • Tormund spies one White Walker leading a field trip of wights, which FINALLY brings us to the point of this damn excursion.

That’s right, the plot arrived in the form of Skyr! Why are we calling a White Walker Icelandic yogurt?

It’s from Spaceballs. You’ll have to Google it like Sophie Turner.

Moving on, Skyr is the best troop leader. He even makes sure that all his wights have little hats. For anyone totally lost, it’s literally a White Walker with a single-file row of dutiful wights. The Gumbo Goobers spot them and figure this is their best chance to snipe a wight. Thus Operation Stick a Bag on a Wight begins.

It’s a fight, and it takes about four seconds. Jonny kills Skyr really quickly with Longclaw, and every single wight but one crumble into non-existence, much like our engagement in this episode. Apparently it’s because he personally resurrected all the wights but that one. Then it takes the entire gumbo party to shove the wight into a bag. It screams, and its scream may have summoned the entire Army of the Dead. That, or another White Walker noticed that one of their wights, who had been raised by Skyr, randomly collapsed.

Therefore, a storm suddenly comes over Mount Arrowhead, and it’s time to run like hell. Why Skyr didn’t have a mini-storm following him is anyone’s guess, but maybe they need to all combine their rings of power or something.

It suddenly dawns on the soup pot that they can’t outrun this army, especially not with a bagged and struggling wight. So Jonny orders Gendry to run really, really fast back to Eastwatch so that he can send a raven to Deadpan and tell her what’s happened. Beardy even takes his hammer away so he can run faster. Why Gendry? Because he’s the fastest runner, duh.

Gendry runs in one direction, and the rest of the gumbo gang runs in the other, dragging the wight. They magically come across the Plot Convenience Pond, which has only been recently and superficially frozen, despite them being in the very far north. In winter. Team Gumbo makes it to the island in the middle of Plot Convenience Pond, but the ice breaks behind them. As we all know, this is an impenetrable barrier to the dead zombies, who not only can’t swim, but can’t even think to make some kind of weird skeletal bridge. So they just stare at Team Gumbo.

Shogun is also there, but lacking any kind of ranged projectile, stares as well.

Elsewhere, Gendry is booking it. In fact, it’s barely dusk when he trips and falls right in front of Eastwatch. We suppose all that walking and talking took place within four hours. Davos greets him, and thank god for Shireen’s School of Conveniently Placed Illiterates, since that letter can now be written.

It’s morning at the ~Plot Convenience Pond~. Thoros died, but only Thoros, because everyone else is immune to hypothermia, despite their lack of hats. We don’t know, shouldn’t Jorah have at least lost an ear or something? Sandor takes Thoros’s booze. Beric lights his sword and burns Thoros. If only he had lit a fire earlier to keep his friend warm. He also tells Jonny that if he wants to end the war, he just needs to kill Shogun, and then the whole Army of the Dead would collapse. Why he knows this with certainty is beyond us.

At the Abandoned Island of Sexual Tension, Deadpan gets improbably possible mail from a raven that arrived via wormhole. Tyrion tries to tell her that she can’t go save her boyfriend, because if she dies, everyone’s lost. No one can break the wheel like her. However, she’s done listening. Us too.

Back North, Sandor decides that he is very, very mad at the Army of the Dead. Or maybe he’s just drunk on Thoros’s booze. Or maybe he’s starting to suspect their ride isn’t going to show up. Either way, he decides to fling rocks at the zombies. One of his throws is short and skittles on the ice. THE ICE!!!

The zombies are smart enough to realize that the rock scooting on ice means the water refroze and they can advance. But they were not smart enough to realize that it clearly would have refrozen by now, and maybe someone should have been testing this the whole time. Whatever, they just all rush towards the Team Gumbo. Beric turns on his lightsaber.

They fight, and they fight. Since this is a character-driven battle, Sandor has a specific rivalry with the one wight he threw a rock at. Apparently he’s a “dumb cunt.” Jorah saves Jonny at some point, but there’s so much shaky cam that we can barely keep our cookies in as another spare dies. “Fall back!” Jonny says. To what? They are surrounded!

Apparently it’s falling back to the weird Pride Rock-shaped thing that’s right there. Tormund almost dramatically dies, and there’s an entire group effort to save him. Also, the wight in the bag is being passed around. Then Vincent Expandable horrifically dies and gets dramatic music.

But wait, on first light of the fifth first day (literally), they look to the east. It’s Deadpan! She arrives jussssst as the wights…climb the hill they were on. She’s able to immediately burn the wights near them, and most of Team Gumbo gets on Drogon’s back with her. Jonny, however, gets super distracted by one single wight that almost definitely can’t climb the dragon, so he just wanders off.

Meanwhile, Shogun acquired some ranged projectiles, and throws one of his javelins at Viserion. Not Drogon and the entire party on his back, but Viserion. The dragon gets hit, and his death is super sad even though we don’t know anything about this one and heard his name a grand total of once, maybe. The battle pauses so we can watch the main characters be sad too.

Then Jonny, who is now separated by a good bit, realizes that Shogun is teeing up to throw yet another javelin. He yells in a panic that these fools need to fly, before falling into some cracked ice and going down into water. Oh no, is this the end of our hero?

Well, Shogun, being horribly genre unsavvy, assumes as much, so in less time than it takes for a grown man in full layers of fur, leather, and chainmail to drown in a frozen lake, he turns the Army of the Dead around and they high-tail it away. Not to bury the lede here, but yeah, Jonny survives and drags his stupid, wet butt out. Some of the retreating wights spot him and look vaguely interested. However, fear not…he’s saved at the buzzer by none other than Uncle Benjen Coldhands!

Pause. We’re just curious: anyone who didn’t watch Season 7…do you think we’re making stuff up right now? Or like, exaggerating? Because we have watched this more times than we’d care to admit at this point, and even we still can’t believe what this is. Let us know in the comments below! And while chatting like this, have you heard about our Fandomentals+ subscription service? For less than the price of one latte at Peet’s a month, you can gain access to editor exclusive essays, hang-out sessions, and podcasts, while also getting a discount on our store items. Fandomentals+…For highly engaged readers like you! (No, actually.)

Anyway, Benjen Coldhands gives Jonny his horse and heroically sacrifices himself for reasons. We guess maybe it bought Jonny time to get away, because the entire Army of the Dead was so distracted by the mostly-dead dude.

Back at Eastwatch and the boats, Beardy and Sandor headnod at each other. Beric decides he’s going to stay with Beardy, because his top-knot friend is gone now. He tells Sandor they’ll meet again though. Thank the gods.

Drogon and Rhaegal circle around the air sadly, because their bro is gone. Deadpan is watching sadly, because Jonny Snow is gone. Jorah says they should go, but jusssst as she turns around she hears the horn. One blast for rangers returning. Be still, our hearts.

Yeah, it’s Jonny, and we cut to him getting stripped naked and put under furs on the boat. Deadpan spies his multiple stab wounds. Or maybe she’s just impressed by his glamor muscles. Or that a near-corpse is clearly flexing.

Somewhere during what must be a five-minute boat journey given how fast it took the raven to make the same flight, Jonny wakes up and apologizes to Deadpan for Viserion dying. She tells him it was worth it so that she could understand the true threat now. Then she tells Jonny that the dragons are the only kids she’ll ever have. So you know, they don’t need to worry about birth control or anything. Winkety wink.

Are the stab wounds a turn-on?

Deadpan also says she’ll side with Jonny in his monster hunt. “Thank you, Dany,” he answers. She points out that no one has called her that since her brother in Season 1, so…is he enjoying The Wars to Come rewatch project on TheFandomentals.com too?

Then, out of nowhere, he says he’ll bend the knee. Like, not now now, since he’s still half-dead, but later. The Wind-Vane Lords will “come to see you for what you are.” A barely emotive, inconsistently written wig that vacillates between progressive socialism and paranoid autocracy? They hold hands.

Remember when Shogun turned the Army of the Dead away from Jonny because there were important Army of the Dead things to do? Well, apparently that was to go to the spot where Viserion fell. You know, like 20 feet away. Or maybe they had to go back to White Walkerville and get the largest chains anyone has ever seen, as well as some SCUBA gear, because as we all know: wights can’t swim.

So wights swim down and wrap these giant chains around Viserion’s underwater corpse. Then a bunch of other wights pull said chains, and drag his skeleton out. Shogun touches him, and he rises with blue eyes. Neat!

Oh Détente, Oui Détente, Zats what Everybody Wants!

Speaking of neat, all our heroes and their supporting forces magically arrive at Cheryl’s Landing at the exact same time, on the exact same day. We assume this was the plan, but how the Dothraki timed it so perfectly with Lady Brienne is beyond us.

Side note #4526: if this meeting hadn’t been called, where were the Unsullied marching? To all those ships Deadpan has to ferry them back to the island? To all those Deadpan holdings that Cheryl will soon take back should this détente somehow fail?

Doesn’t matter. Also not mattering for our purposes are Larry and Bronn talking about schlongs. Much more important is the fact that Tyrion, Jonny, Jorah, Missandei, and Sandor are all on a boat. Jonny doesn’t like cities: who wants the worry? The noise? The dirt, the heat? Who wants the garbage cans clanging in the street?

According to Tyrion, the sex workers are better. But what about what they say about Northern girls?! Also, their population figures are highly suspect. As is the way they transported the zombie: in a wooden box that Sandor checks on lovingly. Still making that really annoying scream sound effect, all good!

This very important party consisting of a king, a Hand, and crucial advisors, is met in the middle of an abandoned, poorly kempt country road by about twenty dudes. But one of them is Bronn, so that counts for at least another fifty. And oh look: Brienne and Pod made it around Moat Cailin to be there! Again! No one questions this or asks where Sansa is. We suppose more than an acting Wardeness can talk to a queen.

This sure is dignified.

History-nerd Missandei wants to know about the dragon pit, where they’re all supposed to meet. Luckily Jorah is here, with all his talent in expositing at women. To be fair, Tyrion does join in too. They tell her how once the Targaryen dragons were locked in the dragon pit, they started to get smaller and smaller. Very good, D&D, you watched Season 1. We get it. If only they had also read The World of Ice and Fire so we could have gotten the anecdote about the townsfolk killing half the dragons that one time.

But guys, hold onto your hats, because it is time for YET ANOTHER WALK AND TALK! Everyone, pair off!

First up is Pod and Tyrion with a touching reunion. Bronn jumps in to mention Pod’s “magic cock.”

Next is Sandor and a Lannister guard. The Lannister guard tries to be mildly sociable and asks what’s moving inside that box and making weird sound effects. Sandor tells him, “F-ck off.” We’re just glad Ed Sheeran didn’t draw straws for that shift!

Next is Sandor and Brienne. They both knew Arya. She’s alive. Haha they fought. Good times.

Then we get to Bronn and Tyrion’s walk and talk of significance. To be fair, they do have their telepathic connection—excellent for arranging meetings. Maybe that’s how they know what day to schedule this one on. Bronn insists that he’s totally a mercenary with no emotional attachment to anyone. Especially not that beautiful Larry he’s been serving for so long.

We need to mention that this scene is paced exactly the same way we would choose to portray purgatory.

Finally, Sandor finishes off his meaningful relationship with the Lannister guard by threatening to kill him if he touches the box. Sometimes, being a Lannister guard is just no fun at all.

Then we get to the pit scene, and have a minor meltdown because how many times are we going to have to watch this?

No, seriously, click here, scroll to the subheading “Possible Alliances and Impossible Break-ups,” and that right there is half of this endless episode.

Though we should note, we brought our stopwatches this time, so here’s our insightful notes:

After the solid minute of Tyrion and his buds walking to their chairs, there’s 20 seconds of silence before Sandor calls everyone “cunts.” Then there’s another solid minute of everyone walking to chairs once Cheryl’s people arrive. After they stare at each other for an inordinate amount of time, Sandor decides it’s a great idea to walk up to his brother and yell his pitiful scrap of a character arc in his face. He’s gonna get that revenge.

Cheryl is upset that Deadpan is late, and after 15 seconds of silence that is apparently a tension-filled love triangle stare, Deadpan arrives on two dragons. Cheryl is annoyed at the theatricality. Drogon lands, 45 seconds pass, and Drogon takes off. Then the next 30 seconds are spent with Cheryl telling Deadpan that she was late, and Deadpan nodding at Tyrion.

For anyone who didn’t click back to Cherry Bomb (how dare you!), the mile-high recap is:

  • Euron the hooligan tells Theon he has Yara
  • Tyrion gives a humble opening monologue about how they’re all enemies…awkward!
  • Cheryl refuses to “pull back my armies and stand down” from all the places that she totally controls
  • The wight in the box is brought out. This takes a literal minute for Sandor to walk up the stairs and open it.
  • The wight lunges at Cheryl, and she’s scared. Or is she? Scared in the scripts, but not later in the scripts, so…
  • Euron says he’s scared and wants to go back to his islands. Cheryl is “taken aback” in the script. But then not taken aback later in the script.
  • For some reason this doesn’t prompt Deadpan to just immediately leave because “lol the war is decided” seeing as Cheryl is out of allies now
  • Cheryl says she’ll agree to the terms if Jonny doesn’t take a side after the monster hunt
  • Jonny cannot tell a lie and says he already kneeled to Deadpan. Cheryl storms out. Brienne yells at Larry that he should “f-ck loyalty” as he leaves too.

And that’s where we pick-up in this retrospective, with all of Team Sexual Tension telling Jonny that they’re done for, because he wouldn’t lie. Just like poor ol’ dumb Ned.

Hey, remember when he confessed to stuff he didn’t do 3 seconds before this? AKA a lie?

This is our fourth time watching this stupid scene, and we still can’t figure out why they think they’re all “f-cked” to the point of repeating it about 6 or 7 times. The Lannisters have literally no troops left. The Ironborn, to their knowledge, just ran off with the last bit of…anything. We don’t know what Deadpan is supposed to be “holding” that she’s scared of losing, other than the Abandoned Island of Sexual Tension that the Lannisters never bothered to take for four years, and we don’t know where Cheryl is supposed to be pulling back from, or even what she’d be pulling back. As far as we can tell, she only controls Cheryl’s Landing. And maybe the now-ransacked Highgarden. They don’t need her for anything.

But Tyrion, because he’s super brave, and perfect, and where would we be without him, offers to go into the Lion’s den, and speak to Cheryl who is clearly a murderous, insane person. We mean, she is, but not especially more so than anyone else in this stupid story.

So of course, Tyrion walks down a hallway for another literal minute, and then bonds with Larry about how Cheryl is a murderous, insane woman and they’re both idiots.

Inside Cheryl’s office, Tyrion tries to change his sister’s mind or something. She yells about how he’s destroyed their family, he yells that she should kill him and Tywin sucked eggs.

There’s lots of emotion, and Cheryl makes a fair point about how Deadpan seems to be a murderous, insane person too. But don’t worry, she’s kept in check by listening to Tyrion. That’s, and we quote, “what the difference is between [them].”

During this, Cheryl folds her hands across her stomach, and Tyrion notices the barely perceptible movement of Cheryl’s bottom hand over her belly. She’s pregnant! This changes everything!

Then, off-screen, the ~convincing~ happens.

Meanwhile in the pit, everyone is still piling on Jonny for being an absolute idiot. Jonny’s all sullen.

“No one is less happy about this than I am.”

Deadpan at least respects him for telling the truth, and then they flirt(?) by talking about the bones of dragons that are just unceremoniously scattered on the ground. Didn’t these used to line the throne room? Aren’t they super-duper valuable?

Deadpan tries to talk about the pitiful scraps of a theme in her arc to Jonny. You see, the dragons being in the dragonpit was bad for the dragons, because they were denying who they were. Without dragons, the Targaryens were just like everyone else. Not her, though. She’s going to break the wheel.

Jonny flunked eighth grade, probably, so he just gapes open-mouthed, and only manages to latch onto the thing she says about being the last Targaryen. “You’re still here.” She tells him “the witch who murdered her husband” told her she’s infertile, and footage not found. Unless this is booksnob!Deadpan. Though Jonny, for once in his life, makes a good point: maybe that wasn’t a credible source of medical advice. Deadpan tells herself off for not trusting him from the beginning about the dead people, because that would have changed so much. Look at them now—all that hope, dashed without Cheryl’s massive troops.

Or are they? Tyrion returns, expressionless and alone. Cheryl enters behind him, and Julia breaks and runs because her dress has a farthingale and it’s just too much for her. However, Cheryl then not only agrees to the détente, but is pledging her own troops to join them up North. She just hopes they remember this act of kindness. Well, they’ll probably remember this promise, if nothing else.

Then she heel-turns and heads back inside, because that’s how you say goodbye to allies, and everyone looks at Tyrion. He meets their gaze with a subtle expression: Tyrion Lannister, motherf-ckers.

Actually, kinda…

One worst-worst-worst motives game later, Jonny and Deadpan have already warped back to the Abandoned Island of Sexual Tension. They have a war to plan. First and most important decision, how will Deadpan travel North? Will it be on a dragon? Over land? Will it be on a sex boat? So many options, that this is very worth discussing.

They land on sex boat, because Jonny tells her it sends a better message. Like they’re equals, even though he kneeled to her. Jorah nods in deference, but he’s not smiling at all. F-cking punkass little shitburger stole his khaleesi.

Then Deadpan looks back to the map, and we quote, “in a shot reminiscent of the end of episode 701.” Yes, “no plot or character progression” was a very good theme in this season. Well spotted, D&D.

Before Jonny can have boat sex, Theon comes up to discuss the implications of his pitiful scraps of an arc. We shall detail this at a time TBD in a retrospective, entitled “what the hell are we still doing here?”.

Then, at last, one confusing trial later, it is time for the amazingly built-up boat sex. And that’s it. Jon and Deadpan have sexual intercourse on a boat. Tyrion stands outside of their room listening to them and “looking troubled for more reasons than one.” One of those reasons is apparently his love for Deadpan, and the other is…what? A really strong political alliance is forming?

Elsewhere, a voiceover discusses Jon’s lineage and claim to the Iron Throne, which really only makes this an even better political alliance, but whatever. We’re sure it won’t matter when the wheel is broken. When have your auntie and nephew pairing ever?

Finally, at Eastwatch, Beardy tells Beric he’s scared of heights. At least this isn’t another joke about wanting to bang Brienne or something. Then the Army of the Dead shows up. Shogun is bouncing up and down on the resurrected or zombified (it’s so unclear) Viserion. He breathes some hot blue fire at The Wall and melts it, possibly killing Beardy and Beric. So sad.

That 7-year-old Umber better watch out! His castle is first!

With that, the plotline ends. While I’m sure you’re as on shpilkes as we are for Season 8, we first need to dive into the meaning of all of this…which we’ll do in part 2 next week!


Images courtesy of HBO

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