Jon and Daenerys finally meet. The war is not going well for Daenerys and her allies – and scores are dying in her bid to be queen of Westeros.
Tyrion is outwitted by his twin brother and sister, who have taken the time to figure out how he thinks.
Cersei swears she will pay her debt to the Iron Bank in two weeks. But, how on earth is she going to accomplish that?
A lot happened in this episode, so stay tuned for the recap.
Sansa in Charge at Winterfell
Sansa is now in charge at Winterfell – and she’s doing all the right things. Sansa’s not only readying Winterfell for a long winter, but she’s also preparing to protect her Northern subjects should they need to flee from the Army of the Dead.
Winterfell only has 4,000 bushels of wheat, which is enough food for one winter. So Sansa wisely decides to start requisitioning grain from the stores at great houses in the North. If the entire North has to seek refuge at Winterfell, they won’t have enough food to feed them. And families running from the Night King won’t have enough time to gather up their food stores before they escape.
Sansa also demonstrates she has the whole big picture in mind when she instructs the armorers to line the breast plates with leather so cold metal won’t press on the chests of soldiers when the real winter comes. Perhaps, the war against the Night King can be won like other battles throughout history: with strong preparation.
But, then SHOCKER: Bran has finally come home to Winterfell! Frankly, it’s amazing to see Sansa and Jon and Bran together again. And not to jinx it, but there is even more hope because Arya on the road to reunite with them.
But, getting back to Bran. Things have changed since Sansa and Bran last saw each other. When Sansa and Bran speak in the Godswood, Sansa assumes Bran will want to claim his birthright as Lord of Winterfell. After all, Bran is Ned Stark’s only surviving legitimate male heir.
Bran informs Sansa he cannot because he is now the three-eyed raven – something that makes no sense to Sansa.
Bran tries to explain the nature of the three-eyed raven. He says that he can see everything that has ever happened to everyone – but right now, the information is in pieces and fragments. Bran can’t read the visions properly yet. He needs to learn how to do so, so that he is ready when the Long Night comes again.
Jon and Davos reach Dragonstone. Jon is somewhat warmly greeted by Tyrion. It’s been at least six years since they’ve seen each other. Missandei then greats them and effectively seizes their weapons.
Missandei immediately takes Jon and Davos to their audience with Danerys.
En route Tyrion broaches the awkward topic of his marriage to Jon’s sister. He immediately states it was a sham marriage and never consummated. It’s a good conversation, and we are glad to hear it because you gotta wonder how that would have gone. And, then Jon and Davos almost crap their pants when they see Dany’s ginormous dragons in the flesh.
Spider vs. Red Witch
While Dany and Jon make their way up the windy path to Dragonstone, Varys speaks with Melisandre. The red woman avoids greeting Jon and Davos, something that’s not lost on Varys. When Varys probes, at first Melisandre tells him now that she has reunited ice and fire, her mission is over. But, Varys is relentless, so Melisandre finally admits she parted ways with Jon and Davos on bad terms.
Melisandre doesn’t tell Varys that the bad blood is because of her role in Shireen’s death. But, come on. This is the Spider: he likely knows already.
When Melisandre announces she is leaving for Volantis, Varys ominously warns her not to returns to Westeros because she might to be safe. Safe from him I’d wager. Remember, Varys hates sorcery.
Melisandre isn’t cowed and smoothly replies: “I have to die in this strange country, just like you.”
Audience with Dany
Jon’s audience with Dany doesn’t go well. When Jon doesn’t bend the knee to Dany, things get tense.
It isn’t looking likely that Jon is going to get the support from Dany he’d hoped for. After all, Daenerys isn’t apt to believe a stranger about “Snarks and Grumkins” north of the wall. She is also shocked that Jon isn’t immediately pledging fealty to her.
There’s bad blood on Jon and Daenerys families have a history. Dany sees Jon as coming from a family of oathbreakers. Dany’s father, the mad king, burned Jon’s uncle and grandfather alive.
Dany asks for his forgiveness as a bid to getting his support. But she’s getting nowhere because she doesn’t yet know the truth – so she can’t trust Jon’s words.
As Jon tells her: “I am not your enemy; the dead are your enemy.”
But all Daenerys cares about is ruling the seven kingdoms and she warns Jon that by not pledging fealty to her, she considers him to be in open rebellion.
Before things can escalate further, Daenerys ends the audience after Varys interrupts with urgent news.
Daenerys is Quickly Losing the War
Once alone, Varys informs the mother of dragons that Euron has destroyed Yara’s fleet and Yara and Ellaria are presumed dead. As Cersei tells the Iron Bank, the Lannisters have decapitated the Dornish snake and “her” armada owns the Narrow Sea.
To make matters worse, unfortunately for Dany, she listened to Tyrion when he advised her to seize the Lannister strong hold, Casterly Rock.
Casterly Rock is usually seen as impregnable. The Lannister army can readily spot an enemy’s approach by sea and prepare to fight. The gates of Casterly Rock are impregnable. And a siege requires fighting up the steep stone wall. Yet, Tyrion knows of a way they can triumph. When Tyrion built the sewers, he created a secret entrance in an out-of-the-way cove by the sea.
But things go awry for Dany’s army. When Grey Worm and his men finally fight their way into the castle, they realize that nobody is there. The castle has been abandoned.
When Grey Worm stands on the ramparts and turns around, Euron’s army is in the harbor burning all of the ships that sailed Grey Worm and his men to Casterly Rock.
(This by the way, means that Grey Worm is in hot water. Euron can put him under siege and Grey Worm will likely soon run out of the provisions in the abandoned castle.)
So, where is the Lannister army? Why it’s marching on Dany’s other ally, Olenna Tyrell.
Later Jon and Tyrion talk – and it’s pretty clear that Daenerys not only doesn’t believe Jon, she has taken him prisoner. Seizing Jon’s ship sends a pretty clear message: you’re not going anywhere.
Jon is incredibly frustrated that he can’t get Daenerys’ support. He doesn’t understand why people don’t believe him and acknowledges he is not good with words.
Tyrion, however, believes Jon because he is honest and all of Jon’s advisors would have warned him not to go to Dragonstone.
After Tyrion hints that Jon should ask him for a favor, Jon asks for and gets the right to mine dragonglass and produce weapons. Dany will even loan Jon a few of her men to help.
Euron’s Gift to Cersei (King’s Landing)
The victorious Euron stages a low-rent Roman tribute-type parade as he forces his prisoners of war — his niece Yara, Ellaria Sand, and her daughter Tyene – to walk through the streets of King’s Landing. He rides his horse into the throne room at the Red Keep and presents Cersei with a prize she’s long desired: revenge the murder of her only daughter.
For months, Cersei has been plotting how to avenge her daughter’s death. So when Euron rides into the throne room trailing Ellaria Sand and announces “Justice for your murdered daughter,” his gift truly does fill her heart’s desire.
Although Euron hints that he wants Cersei’s hand as payment, the queen wisely replies that he won’t get it until the war is won.
Cersei announces that Euron will command the naval battle and Jaime will lead the land forces.
But Jaime doesn’t trust Euron for a minute. And, Euron goads Jaime by whispering obscenities to the one-handed knight and asking for advice on how to please Cersei sexually.
Later in the dungeons, Cersei finally gets to confront her daughter’s killer and get some justice. As she talks to a gagged Ellaria, Cersei reveals the depths of her devastation.
Cersei can’t understand why Ellaria Sand murdered her only daughter, a sweet innocent girl.
Cersei’s fantasized about Ellaria’s death for months. But, instead of getting the Mountain to crush Ellaria’s skull, Cersei’s decided to make the punishment fit the crime.
Qyburn has concocted a replica of Long Farewell, the same poison that Ellaria used to kill Myrcella, and Cersei’s applied it to her lips.
Cersei kisses Tyene sealing her fate.
Cersei’s not going to execute Ellaria. Rather, the queen is going to leave her daughter’s killer in that cell so she can be tortured by watching her daughter die and then her corpse rot.
In a somewhat disturbing transition after Cersei’s kiss of death, HBO cut to Cersei kissing Jaime. (I couldn’t stop wondering if traces of the poisonous lipstick was still on Cersei’s lips even though she’d wiped it off.) Perhaps, HBO is symbolically conveying that Cersei will be Jaime’s kiss of death. Olenna Tyrell certainly seems to think so, but I’m getting ahead of myself…
Come the next morning, Jaime is still alive and the twin-lovers are lying in bed together. Queen Cersei no longer feels the need to hide their relationship, even allowing one of her ladies-in-waiting to enter while Jaime is lying in Cersei’s bed. (Quite delightfully, Cersei clearly has had all of her ladies hair cut their hair short like hers.) The lady-in-waiting announces that a Braavosi visitor has arrived.
[Hooray, Mark Gattis from BBC’s Sherlock is back! But, undoubtedly only for a moment or two.]
Cersei is in hot water. The Iron Bank has come to collect its massive debt from the Lannisters and if she can’t pay them, they will likely fund her enemies – namely Daenerys.
The Iron Bank’s Tycho Nestoris is nobody’s fool. He points out that Cersei is fighting a war on several fronts with empty coffers. And, gold wins wars. Worse, the allies who could have helped her out – wealthy families like the Tyrells – are now are Lannister enemies.
Tycho implies that Daenerys is more apt to win the war. She has huge armies and three full-grown ship-burning dragons.
But, Cersei strikes back, making a strong case that would appeal to any the latter-day banker’s sensibilities:
“How are you profits now that Daenerys has freed all the slaves?”
“How do bankers usually fare under revolutionaries?”
“The Lannisters always pay their debts… Do former slaves or Dothraki or dragons pay their debts?”
How Cersei Will Pay Her Debt to the Iron Bank
While Daenerys forces are distracted with their attack on Casterly Rock – which Jaime and Cersei wisely decided to use as decoy – the Lannister Army is attacking Highgarden on the opposite end of the country.
I was thinking to myself, “How on earth will Cersei repay the Iron Bank in two weeks?? But, then it hit me, Highgarden is the richest house in Westeros – and once victorious, Cersei would have their assets.
The Lannisters’ decoy plan is a good one and they know it.
After Jaime wins the battle, he immediately seeks out Olenna. Even though Olenna knows Jaime is there to kill her, it’s a civil conversation: frank and friendly even.
Jaime explains the Lannister strategy to the queen of thorns. The Lannisters decided to let Dany attack Casterly Rock as a decoy. Dany’s army could take it for now. Jaime knows they won’t be able to hold it.
The decision to let Casterly Rock fall enabled Jaime to take his army where Dany’s men weren’t – a trick he’d learned the hard way from Robb Stark.
Olenna regrets supporting Cersei. “Your sister has done things that I wasn’t capable of imagining.” Olenna warns Jaime that Cersei is a monster and a “disease” – and Jaime’s love for Cersei will be the end of him.
Jaime has decided to give Olenna a gentle death – a mercy Cersei might not have given the family matriarch. Jaime stirs a vial of poison into Olenna’s wine. The poison is pain-free so it’s somewhat ironic that Olenna decides to twist the knife. [Yeah, I know… I’m probably overusing irony here.]
“I’d hate to die like your son,” she tells Jaime referring to the boy-king’s choking death from the Strangler poison. Olenna confesses that although she didn’t know how terrible the poison would make Joffrey’s last moments, she was indeed the one who killed Jaime’s son. “Tell Cersei,” Olenna instructs Jaime. “I want her to know it was me.”
But to Jaime’s credit, he doesn’t lash out and strike Olenna down with a sword. He just walks out before the poison can do its work.
The Citadel: Sam’s Cure
After Sam’s savage greyscale treatment last week, Jorah’s infection appears to be cured and the archmaester evicts him from his cell.
The archmaester later chews Sam out for attempting the treatment. The archmaester is impressed and gives him a more demanding task than emptying chamber pots: he will transcribe some ancient scrolls.
Amazingly, Jorah will keep his promise and return to Daenerys.
At the end of this episode, the Lannisters are up. Cersei and Jaime have finally gotten long-awaited justice against the women who killed their children. But how long will Fortune’s Wheel allow the Lannister twins to stay on top and be happy?