Mind. Blown. How can this show keep being this amazing?! As promised by the show runners, Season 7 is wasting no time, so let’s get to it!
A storm rages outside Dragonstone as Dany and her council hold a strategy session in the war room. Tyrion and Varys reminisce about the similar storm for which Dany was named, but she does not feel as if she’s come home. They discuss the fact that Cersei controls only three of the Seven Kingsoms, and Varys tells Dany that the people hate Cersei and are plotting against her. Dany remembers Viserys was stupid enough to believe that the Westerosi were drinking toasts to his health, and says that if he’d been backed by an army and had three dragons, he’d have already invaded King’s Landing. Tyrion reminds her that conquering Westeros would be easy for her, but she did not come there to be queen of the ashes. She concedes that he is right before turning her attention to Varys.
She interrogates him about his shifting loyalties: first he served her father, then he served Robert before turning against Robert and backing Viserys’ claim to the throne, even though Viserys was “cruel, stupid and weak.” Varys is wary at this turn in the conversation (as am I), and Tyrion, recognizing that Varys may be in trouble, attempts to intervene on his behalf. Dany cuts him off and questions Varys’ track record as a loyal servant–as soon as he becomes disenchanted with one ruler, he conspires to crown the next. She challenges his servitude and he counters by saying he provides what the realm needs. And here, if Varys is being sincere, we see what makes him tick. I think he is being sincere–Dany has turned on him out of nowhere, and although taken aback, he recovers quickly. Varys is cagey enough to realize that Dany isn’t going to be taken in by glib explanations, so he realizes that the truth is the only politically expedient tactic in this situation.
He describes his childhood–how he was sold as a slave and mutilated as an offering, how he grew up in the gutters among the filth–and tells her that his true loyalty lies with the people, “the people who suffer under despots and prosper under just rule.” He says that Dany is the best hope for the people, which is why he has chosen her side. If she demands blind allegiance, he respects her wishes but cannot fulfill them. If she wants to kill him because of that, fine, but if she lets him live he will dedicate himself to seeing her on the Iron Throne. She extracts a promise from him that if he ever thinks she is failing the people, he will come to her directly instead of conspiring behind her back. If he doesn’t fulfill this promise, she’ll burn him alive. Yikes–Dany needs to channel a little less of the Mad King and realize that she is a stranger to Westeros, and needs her allies’ knowledge of the history and intrigue of the Seven Kingdoms in order to navigate its political landscape.
Dany and Varys reach a truce, and Grey Worm announces a visitor. It is the Red Woman, who explains the Azor Ahai prophecy. Dany takes issue with the “prince” who was promised, until Missandei steps in to point out that the High Valyrian word for prince has no gender, and could therefore mean prince OR princess. The Red Woman tells Dany she has a part to play in the wars to come, as does Jon Snow, who, to Tyrion’s surprise, is now the King in the North. Melisandre and Tyrion fill Dany in on Jon Snow–the things he has seen beyond the Wall, his alliance with the Wildlings, and his reasons for hating Cersei. Tyrion vouches for Jon Snow, and that is why, way back in Season One, the seeds were sown for Tyrion to be the key to Westeros–he is the only one in the South who has established a rapport with Jon Snow, and the only one who can draw on their mutual respect and trust to entice him to come to Dragonstone. He is also the only one who knows that Jon Snow is not going to “bend the knee” to Dany–who, by the way, needs to chill out on her power trip.
At Winterfell, Jon receives a raven from Dragonstone (with a note that says nothing about bending the knee). He knows it’s from Tyrion because the last line reads, “All dwarves are bastards in their fathers’ eyes,” and explains to Sansa that Tyrion said that to him on the first night they met. He asks Sansa for her advice, since she knows Tyrion better than he does, and while she concedes that he’s not like the other Lannisters, she thinks it’s too big of a risk for Jon to go to Dragonstone. Ser Davos concurs, but points out that Dany has dragons, dragons breathe fire, and fire kills Wights.
House Tyrell’s bannermen are gathered in the throne room at King’s Landing, where Cersei is trying to convince them to turn against the Tyrells and join her cause. She paints a chilling picture of what will happen if Daenerys triumphs–Dothraki “heathens” will sack their villages, rape and enslave their women and butcher their children. Cersei sure knows how to turn a phrase! She attempts to shake their sworn allegiances by telling them that is how Lady Olenna rewards centuries of loyalty and spinning tales of Dany’s “legendary” brutality in Essos. Dany needs to move on this bitch, NOW! It literally kills me to see Jaime at Cersei’s side, persuading Randyll Tarly to abandon House Tyrell. Will his sense of honor ever transcend his loyalty to Cersei?! Talk about blind devotion!
Sam watches as Archmaester Marwyn examines Jorah Mormont and tells him that while he could live for years with the greyscale, he has maybe six months before joining the ranks of the Stone Men. Sam intercedes to bring up the case of the Princess Shireen, but the Archmaester points out that Shireen was an infant whose greyscale was caught in time while Jorah is an adult whose greyscale has advanced beyond the maesters’ ability to cure it. He gives Jorah one day to get his affairs in order before he is sent to Old Valyria to live out his live with the Stone Men. Sam asks Jorah if they should get word to his family, and is surprised to learn that Jorah is a Mormont.
Cersei and Qyburn are in the cellars of the Red Keep. Qyburn has used his skills as a mad genius to deduce that if dragons can be wounded (as Drogon was in the fighting pits), they can be killed. He has fabricated a weapon that he thinks will kill a dragon and demonstrates by asking Cersei to pull the lever. When she does, a spear catapults from the contraption, piercing the skull of the mighty Balerion. I’m sick to my stomach thinking of all the time Dany and Co. are giving Cersei to prepare for their attack. If Qyburn’s contraption succeeds in killing one (or more) of the dragons, the Red Wedding will look like a tea party.
Back at Dragonstone, Yara urges Dany to attack King’s Landing with everything they have immediately. Tyrion counsels restraint, citing the destruction such action would wreak on the people of King’s Landing. Ellaria Sand sneers, “that is war,” and she and Tyrion snipe at each other before Dany intervenes and commands Ellaria to treat Tyrion with the respect warranted by the Hand of the Queen. Dany agrees that she does not want to be Queen of the Ashes and she and Tyrion set forth the battle plan.
They will not march the Unsullied and Dothraki to King’s Landing. Tyrion predicts that Cersei will appeal to the loyalty of the Westerosi Lords by riling them up against an army of foreigners (as we just saw her do). Rather than prove her point, they will use only Westerosi armies to attack the Capitol. Yara and Ellaria will set sail for Sunspear, and the Iron Fleet will escort the Dornish army to King’s Landing. The Dornish, along with the Tyrell army, will lay siege upon King’s Landing. Lady Olenna wonders why, if Dany is going to employ Dornish and Tyrell forces against Cersei, did she bring her own army to Westeros? Tyrion explains that the Unsullied’s objective is to take Casterly Rock. Yara, Ellaria and Lady Olenna agree to this plan, and Dany asks to speak to Lady Olenna alone.
She promises that Cersei will pay for what she did to Lady Olenna’s family and that peace will be restored to Westeros. Lady Olenna schools Dany on the fleeting notion that constitutes peace in Westeros, and advises Dany to ignore the advice of the clever men surrounding her. Then, with singular Lady Olenna saltiness, she offers this counsel: “the Lords of Westeros are sheep. Are you a sheep? No, you are a dragon. Be a dragon.”
Missandei arrives at Grey Worm’s chamber, noting that he leaves for Casterly Rock tomorrow and wondering if he’d planned to say goodbye to her. Grey Worm tells her she is his weakness, and explains how the Masters exploited weakness in the Unsullied. Grey Worm had no weaknesses–he was not the biggest or the strongest Unsullied, but he was the bravest, because he had no fear. Now, because of Missandei, he has fear. I hope this doesn’t foreshadow a tragic fate for Grey Worm on his upcoming mission to Casterly Rock. Missandei is also afraid. They share a poignant stare, then Grey Worm strides to Missandei, takes her face in his hands, and kisses her. Finally! Missandei pulls away, and at first Grey Worm is heartbroken at the apparent rejection, but then he sees that Missandei is undressing. She begins to undress him, but when she reaches to take off his pants, he tells her no. In a voice filled with all the love and tenderness she feels for him, she asks, “Please–I want to see you.” Knowing that he can trust this woman with everything he is, Grey Worm stands still while Missandei removes the rest of his clothing and looks at what the Masters did to him. It is such a sweet and tender moment, full of all the love and trust they have between them. Missandei leads him to the bed and we see–rather explicitly–that the Masters did not succeed in removing Grey Worm’s ability to pleasure a woman. Whew, that was hot!
Sam follows Archmaester Marwyn through the Citadel’s library as he piles ancient tomes into Sam’s arms. The last contains a procedure for curing greyscale, which the Archmaester warns is far too dangerous and therefore forbidden. He says this, but why would he provide Sam with such knowledge at this particular time? I think it’s the Archmaester’s way of tacitly giving Sam permission to attempt the procedure on Jorah. Cut to Jorah, who as his last act before being shipped off to Old Valyria, is writing a letter to “Khaleesi.” Sam enters his room with a cart full of potions and surgical instruments. He tells Jorah that he knew his father and that he was with Jeor Mormont when he died. He promises, “You’re not going to die today, Ser Jorah.” Given his unique experiences, Sam, unlike everyone else at the Citadel, understands that sometimes circumstances call for action. Hence his swiping of the keys to the restricted area last episode and the operation he’s about to attempt on Jorah.
Sam gives Jorah some rum and a strap to bite down on, because this is going to hurt. He pleads with Jorah not to scream, because if he does and anyone hears him, they’re both finished. Sam is unfailingly polite, isn’t he? He begins the procedure, and of all the violence and gore Game of Thrones has given us so far, this is hands down the most cringe-inducing scene I’ve ever seen on this show. Let’s hope it works.
Arya is eavesdropping on a conversation about Dany’s dragons at the Inn at the Crossroads. Sweet, sensitive Hot Pie sits down at her table and after a brief conversation looks at her searchingly before asking, “what happened to you?” She guzzles a glass of ale in response, while Hot Pie moves on to the next question and asks where she’s headed. When she says King’s Landing he wonders aloud why she’s not going to Winterfell? Arya still thinks the Boltons have Winterfell and is stunned when Hot Pie tells her that the Boltons are dead and Jon Snow is now the King in the North. The glimmer of hope and relief that flits across her face at this news is heartbreaking. She departs, and as everyone else heads towards King’s Landing, and the forlorn strings of the Starks’ theme accompany her, Arya turns her horse around and heads north. She’s going home!
At Winterfell, Jon receives a raven from the Citadel. He meets with the Northern Lords to explain that Sam has discovered that Dragonstone sits on a mountain of dragonglass. He also apprises them of Tyrion’s earlier missive, and tells them he’s going to accept his invitation to meet Dany. Sansa objects (here we go again), warning that it’s a trap–Ser Yohn Royce agrees–“a Targaryen cannot be trusted. Nor can a Lannister.” Even Lady Mormont objects to Jon’s plan and it looks like he might be facing a mutiny. For a moment he looks defeated, but manages to earnestly explain his position and stand his ground. Sansa stands up and accuses him of abandoning the North when he refuses to send an emissary in his stead (shut up, Sansa!). He turns to her and says that he’s leaving the North and Winterfell in good hands. “Whose?” she demands. “Yours,” he replies. “Until I return, the North is yours.” See, Sansa? Maybe you should be brother’s ally instead of a constant thorn in his side.
Baelish sidles up next to Jon as he’s visiting Ned’s crypt. He starts in with his eely bullshit, calling Jon the last best hope against the coming storm, saying how he loved Catelyn and that she obviously underestimated Jon, etc. Jon tells Baelish in his quiet yet threatening way, “you don’t belong down here.” Baelish explains his presence by saying that he and Jon have never properly spoken and he wanted to remedy that situation. When Jon tells him he has nothing to say to him, Baelish overplays his hand–“how about thank you?” he asks, reminding Jon that he would have lost the Battle of the Bastards without the Knights of the Vale. It’s good Jon’s back is turned to Baelish right now, because if Baelish could see the expression on his face, he might stop digging himself into this hole. But he can’t, so he doesn’t. He continues, “I love Sansa…” and at that, Jon snaps and slams Baelish up against the wall. Jon Snow is getting hotter every minute. After choking him a moment for good measure, Jon snarls, “Talk to my sister, I’ll kill you myself.” Jon strides out of the crypts and into Winterfell’s courtyard, where he mounts his horse and sets off for Dragonstone as Sansa looks on. Baelish appears, looking a bit stunned. I hope Jon Snow hasn’t shown Baelish too much of who he is, because as we all know, honorable and straightforward men have not fared well against Baelish’s cunning ways.
Arya is camping out on her way to Winterfell (yay!). Her horse begins to fidget, and, sensing danger, Arya grabs her sword to defend herself against whatever menace is approaching from the woods. She is soon surrounded by a pack of wolves and swings around in a panic, wondering how she can keep them at bay, when over her shoulder we see a massive direwolf approaching. Could it be? Arya senses its presence and slowly turns to face it. Her apprehension turns to recognition and pitiful, heartbreaking hope as she realizes it’s NYMERIA!! Nymeria has found her–she is still connected to at least one creature in this world and upon this realization, all the armor Arya has accumulated over her sad and grueling journey falls away as she reaches out to her wolf and says:
“Nymeria, it’s me, Arya. I’m heading North, girl, back to Winterfell. I’m finally going home. Come with me.” And again, “Come with me.”
Nymeria stares soulfully at Arya for a moment before turning around and leading her pack back into the wilderness. Every sorrow she has ever known shows on Arya’s face as she watches Nymeria disappear into the woods, and you think perhaps the brevity of this reunion is too much for her to bear. But then she gathers herself and whispers, “That’s not you.”
And I am dead. Bravo, show runners and Maisie Williams–you’ve killed me. I am returned to life, not by the Lord of Light, but by the thought that Nymeria may be off on her own journey at the moment, but I predict there will be a deus ex direwolf situation somewhere down the road.
The Sand Snakes are lolling about in hammocks on their way to Dorne, arguing over who is going to have the first crack at Cersei once they reach King’s Landing. One of them–I can’t tell which is which and I don’t care enough to make the effort to distinguish them–wants to take on the Mountain. The Sand Snakes are delusional about their abilities. Ellaria and Yara flirt as they discuss Theon’s role once Yara is installed as Queen of the Iron Islands. Yara says Theon will be her protector. Ellaria, along with the rest of the world, scoffs at this idea. Just as Yara and Ellaria are about to get down to business, their ship is rocked by an explosion.
Yara and Theon run onto the deck and are greeted by a firefight. Yara looks around in disbelief before she notices a behemoth ship bearing down on them amid the chaos and breathes, “Euron.” Sure enough, Euron jumps onto a gangplank terrifyingly shaped like the foot (or maw?) of a fearsome reptile, probably a Kraken. He is maniacally giddy as this epic battle at sea begins. Yara tells one of the Sand Snakes to take Ellaria downstairs and keep her safe. Good luck with that, as two Ironborn follow them below deck and capture Ellaria. I think she might be Euron’s gift to Cersei. Better Ellaria than a dragon.
The other two Sand Snakes put up a good fight, but alas, they do not survive. Good riddance. Yara is slashing her way through Euron’s men like the badass she is, while Theon appears to be helpless. Pandemonium rules until suddenly the action stops and Euron eerily calls out to Theon. He turns around to see Euron holding Yara by the throat, and visibly falls apart as Euron taunts him, “I have her. Come and get her.” But Theon is no protector, and as he takes in the violent melee around him, he whimpers, Reek-like, before turning tail and jumping overboard. Euron breaks into psychotic laughter at his betrayal of Yara, and God (and the show runners) only knows what’s in store for Lady Greyjoy from here on out.
The episode ends with Theon clinging to a piece of wood, bobbing about and surveying the destruction around him. I’m about ready for Theon’s Homeric arc to end, and to watch him die the coward’s death he so richly deserves.