This episode finally revealed Daenerys for the true villain she is — or so I like to think. Theon and Jon finally see each other again — after Theon’s betrayal of Robb Stark. Cersei may have made a promise that she won’t be able to keep. Arya finally makes it home to Winterfell. And, Littlefinger might have miscalculated.
Can You Ever Really Go Home?
Littlefinger gives Bran his Valyrian steel dagger, the one that the hired assassin (“catspaw”) used when he tried kill Bran so many years ago. After Littlefinger gives Bran the dagger, Bran says “Chaos is a Ladder.”
When Bran asks where the dagger came from, Littlefinger lies and says he doesn’t know.
Bran has seen Littlefinger’s life and misdeeds. One thing seems certain: whatever role Littlefinger had in bringing about the wars and orchestrating Ned’s death will be revealed to all the Starks soon.
Later on, Meera Reed says goodbye to Bran. Bran isn’t particularly grateful for her love, help, or sacrifices. Bran then reveals that he isn’t really Bran, “not anymore.” As Meera realizes, Bran died in that cave. This makes sense given that’s when Summer died – and the direwolves’ fates are tied to their owners.
Interestingly enough Bran is in a wheelchair. My first thought was “anachronism.” But, then I did some research and learned that wheeled furniture for transporting people date back to 5th to 6th century BCE. And, images of chairs with wheels are seen in art from 525 CE China.
Arya returns home to Winterfell. She’s stopped at the gate by the guards, who don’t recognize her. Everyone she once knew at Winterfell, such as Maester Luwin, is dead. According to the Dan Weiss & David Benioff, the inspiration for the scene is Odysseus returning after his long wanderings.
The guards tell her to wait on a snow-covered wall, but the moment they turn their backs Arya vanishes.
Sansa knows exactly where to find Arya: in the crypts, paying her respect to their father. The two sisters are now adults and have grown into different people. Sansa is a great lady, like she’d always wanted, but with a new definition of lady. Arya is the independent warrior she’s always dreamed of becoming. They are no longer the girls who fought over decorum and dolls.
Although once estranged after Lady and the butcher’s boy’s death, the reunited adult sisters reach a genuine connection based on a respect for each other as individuals. When Sansa hears Arya mention her list of people to kill, Sansa realizes that Arya has taken a very different path. When Arya nearly beats Brienne as they duel in the courtyard, Sansa appears to finally have respect for her sister’s skill and life choices.
Cersei & the Iron Bank
Cersei is still in King’s Landing meeting with the Iron Bank. Delighted by Jaime’s victory, she can now tell Tycho Nestoris that his gold is on the way for repayment. In fact, Tycho is already suggesting a new loan so the bank can keep making money on the interest. The one catch? He needs to have the gold in his hands first. And, you know what they say about never counting your chickens before they’re hatched…
Jon at Dragonstone
Jon shows Dany the Dragonstone mine. On the walls, there are cave drawings, possibly painted by the Children of the Forest. These drawings are somewhat similar to the Lascaux cave paintings in France.
The cave etchings on Dragonstone show geometric patterns, including spirals. These patterns are similar to the first geometric patterns on the show.
The White Walkers derive these patterns from the Children of the Forest, for whom they have a mystical significance.
Jon urges Dany to fight with him like the Children fought with the first men. It’s the only way to defeat the White Walkers.
Dany offers to fight with Jon against the White Walkers, if he bends the knee.
Theon and a boat of the Ironborn arrive on Dragonstone to ask Dany to help rescue Yara. This is the first time Jon has seen Theon since Theon betrayed the Starks. Jon snarls that if it weren’t for the fact Theon saved Sansa’s life he would kill Theon right there.
Dany is Losing the War: Drogon vs. the Lannister Army
Dany is frustrated by following Tyrion’s conservative counsel – “Enough with your clever plans.” She is tired of losing. With all of her allies gone, Daenerys realizes she is losing the war and attacks the Lannister army.
When Dany learns that Casterly Rock was a decoy and the Lannister army took Highgarden, Dany decides to unleash the Dothraki hoard and use her fire power.
One of Dany’s motivations is the fact that she won’t be able to feed her massive armies now that the Lannisters have seized Highgarden.
When Dany arrives at Highgarden, we finally get to see the true horror of war. For the first time in the series, two sets of main characters are fighting against each other. It’s impossible to route for either side – and this is probably how either GRRM or the showrunners – whoever devised this battle – intended it. Perhaps war should be presented in its gory truth rather solely from the victor’s perspective.
Dany rides Drogon into battle and the Dothraki hoard attack some straggling Lannister soldiers.
But, is this even ethical? Is there a Geneva Convention against death by dragon fire? There should be.
Drogon’s fire instantly incinerates rows of Lannister soldiers. This is hardly a fair fight and dragon fire is a terrible way to die.
One thing that made me raise my eyebrows is that Dany aims Drogon’s fire at the loot train. Isn’t this where all the grain is stored that Dany so desperately needs? As Emilia Clarke said in an interview, the more Dany doesn’t get what she wants, the more Targaryen she gets.
Bronn manages to land a bolt from the Batista (named “Scorpion”) in Drogon. The dragon isn’t mortally wounded. He lands by the river so Dany can pull the massive bolt from his chest.
When Dany’s back is turned, Jamie charges at the queen and might have killed her if Drogon hadn’t swung his head around and unleashed his fire. Luckily, somebody grabs Jaime and pulls him under water before the flames can reach them.