The good guys took an L in episode 2, but is tonight the night we finally see Jon and Dany meet? Will Cersei finally see some fallout, any fallout from slaughtering half the nobles in the city and destroying the Sept of Baelor? Will Arya make it to Winterfell before Jon leaves? Can Jorah make it back to the FriendZone? Will Bran make it to Winterfell before Jon leaves? Will Jon take Davos with him, forcing Davos to kill Melisandre? Will Sansa still be terrible [spoiler: yes]? Is Dorne once again unaligned?
Here be Spoilers.
The episode opens with Jon and Davos arriving at Dragonstone, which answers a solid half of my questions right off. Ugh, Westerosi gun control. Dothraki take Jon and Davos’ swords and, er, their boat. Tyrion claims Sansa is much smarter than she lets on. We will have to take his word for it. They also get a dragon fly-by, which seems like more of a feature than a bug, however intimidating.
Melisandre is dodging Jon and Davos and indicates she will go to Volantis. Varys is happy to prod her along. She cryptically replies that she must return once last time because it is her destiny to die in Westeros, as it is his.
Missandei gives Dany her full titles; Davos introduces Jon as Jon Snow. King in the North. There is a nice bit of political posturing between Dany and Jon. Jon makes his Army of the Dead pitch. To be honest, he is not great at this sort of thing. Davos, though? Davos is very good at it. Melisandre’s presence would come in handy here.
Varys rushing in cuts the confrontation short. The battle that ended the last episode was worse than expected. Only a few ships escaped. One of those ships fishes Theon out of the drink, but he doesn’t have much in the way of capital left with the Ironborn, if he ever did.
Back at Kings Landing, the common people are cheering for Euron and his prisoners. Like the destruction of the Sept never happened. One of the Sand Snakes did survive, so Euron has three important hostages to gift Cersei. Cersei has to pretend she cares about her dead children, but she is a good actor. She suggests that Euron will get what he wants, but only after the war is won.
As expected, Cersei has plans for Ellaria and her daughter. Plans that make her horny. Jaime, at least, remembers what she did, but he acquiesces.
Cersei tells the representative of the Iron Bank “Lannisters always pay their debts.” It is remarkable that anyone still believes that lie. She promises him full payment in a few days, which seems…unlikely (presumably this is related to events at the end of the episode).
Is there anything I can do to help you?, Tyrion asks Jon. He finally asks for something useful—dragonglass. Dany wisely agrees. Actual progress toward fighting the end game!
Winterfell does not have enough food. Huh, Ramsay wasn’t a great long-term planner. Sansa makes provision for improving their stores and wisely tells the Knights of the Vale to cover their breastplates in leather to protect against the cold.
Oh snap! It’s Bran! I guess he didn’t dawdle to tell stories about Jon at Castle Black. Bran doesn’t look too happy, though. He needs to speak to Jon. Sansa says he is lord of Winterfell, because she remains terrible. Bran points out that he cannot because he is the Three-Eyed Raven, tactfully avoiding the more obvious reason.
Sam healed Jorah successfully. But Jorah is still FriendZoned, and Sam learns that academia is a pie-eating contest in which the prize is more pie.
The campaign to Casterly Rock still seems like a bad idea, but Tyrion has an ace in the hole. He knows a secret passage through the sewers. He literally only tells Dany this long after the Unsullied left. Which is a nice touch at storytelling, but kind of a dick move by an advisor.
That part works, but Euron hits the fleet while they are sacking Kings Landing. Presumably, he learned of their plans from his previous captives. The rest of the Lannister forces—along with Randyll Tarly—sack Highgarden. Now Olenna is captured too, and Dany has lost Dorne and Highgarden. Jaime gives Olenna poison. She takes it, then admits that she killed Joffrey, because she is a boss like that. She died like she lived, talking major shit.
No torture porn yet, thankfully. It was a nasty sequence with Cersei and Ellaria, but the horror was all by implication, and Lena Headey is a phenomenal actress.
The truncated season really shows here. Some people would prefer an entire episode of people sailing and marching. But two battles happen in the space of five minutes. And the pacing doesn’t just rob us of a couple entertaining (expensive) battle sequences. It attempts to paper over the holes in the plot.
Dorne and the destruction of much of the fleet was a nice touch. But the reversals in this episode lean heavily on things that either aren’t plausible or for which no foundation has been laid. How do the Lannister armies have so many soldiers left? Where were they when they were fighting Robb Stark and Stannis? How did Highgarden not have enough soldiers to force a siege? We know that at least some of the Tyrell bannermen switched sides, but that many?
Nobody acts like they care that Cersei destroyed the Sept of Baelor or that Jon (in their eyes) deserted the Night’s Watch. The showrunners do not understand the world that Martin abandoned to them.
To be fair, Jon and Dany aren’t really good leaders either. Jon appears to have had to real plan to win Dany over. Dany’s leadership style runs heavy toward “you will respect my authori-TY!” And, again, she was foolish to have divided her forces. She should have moved to the mainland in force, set up on the east coast—say Storm’s End—and started wooing nobles. Now her Unsullied hold a strategically unimportant city on the wrong side of the continent (and have probably lost their ships), she has lost Dorne and Highgarden, and her cavalry are stuck on an island that can’t possibly produce enough forage for all their horses.
This was a frustrating episode, but there were many great quotes tonight:
“I’ve brought Ice and Fire together.”
“Give us common folk the taste of power and we’re like the lion who tasted man. Nothing else ever tastes so sweet.”
“You’ll be ruling over a graveyard if you don’t defeat the Night King.”
“We don’t make bets. We invest in endeavors we deem to be prudent.”
“I trust the eyes of an honest man more than I trust what everybody knows.”
“Are you trying to present your own statements as ancient wisdom?”
“We all enjoy what we’re good at.” “I don’t.”
“You love her. You really do love her. You poor fool.”