I knew Jaime wasn’t going out that way! Please, show runners–everyone knows he has to kill Cersei! Bronn surfaces, gasping for air, then drags Jaime out of the river. By my calculations Bronn has just saved Jaime’s life twice in quick succession, yet Jaime still has the nerve to complain, “You could have killed me.” Bronn is incredulous at his petulance and asks him if he noticed the dragon standing between him and Daenerys. Until Bronn gets what he’s owed, no one–not even a dragon–gets to kill Jaime except Bronn. Oh, Bronn, I’m sorry I wished you would die before you got to the Scorpion last episode. I’m happy you’re still alive and unafraid of calling Jaime Lannister a cunt.
The awesome power of the dragons dawns on Jaime. If Daenerys decides to use all three of them–“you’re fucked,” says Bronn. Jaime qualifies that “they” are fucked, but Bronn begs to differ. Dragons are where their partnership ends. He’s not going to be hanging around King’s Landing when Dany decides to rain hellfire on the Red Keep. Jaime’s primary concern is getting to Cersei and telling her what they’re up against. His continued misguided devotion to his sister is rendering him less hot with each passing episode. He needs a good dose of Brienne.
Tyrion looks deeply troubled as he walks through the annihilated landscape of the Reach. Dany has gathered the surviving Lannister soldiers and gives them a choice: they can bend the knee or they can die. Only a few of them fall to their knees at first, but after a little encouragement from Drogon, several more bend the knee. Randyll and Dickon Tarly do not. Dany beckons Randyll forward and he explains that he will not pledge loyalty to a foreign invader backed by savages. At least Cersei was born and has lived her entire life in Westeros. Randyll Tarly is an unreconstructed idiot. Cersei has lived her entire life in Westeros wreaking havoc upon its people.
Tyrion tries to persuade him to bend the knee–after all, it wasn’t so long ago that he was pledged to House Tyrell. Since Cersei obliterated the Tyrells and ordered his rightful queen, Lady Olenna, murdered, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for him to switch allegiances once again. He refuses and Tyrion asks Dany to send him to the Wall. Has Tyrion failed to learn that Dany is displeased when her advisors question her decisions in public? He should trod carefully. I think Tyrion was surprised by his dismay at seeing Jaime so spectacularly defeated and the Lannister army blown to kingdom come.
Dany can’t send Randyll Tarly to the Wall because she is not his queen. Dany respects that he will not trade his honor for his life and accepts his decision. Dickon pipes up and tells her that she’ll have to kill him, too. Tyrion implores him to bend the knee–this war has already wiped out one great house and he is the future of another. Dickon will not. His father is dismayed but, along with the resignation flickering across his face over his son’s decision, there is pride.
Tyrion tries once again to dissuade Dany from her course of action. Take them prisoner, he pleads, but Dany is not there to put men in chains. She calmly explains that she gave them a choice, and they’ve made it. Dothraki guards lead the Tarlys to the side and Dany sentences them to die before she quietly says, “Dracarys.” And that’s that for Randyll and Dickon Tarly. Too bad about Dickon, but Randyll shouldn’t have been such a prick to Sam.
Jaime is striding through the corridors of the Red Keep, anxious to warn Cersei about the threat Daenerys poses. Smug as always, Cersei thinks that with the Tyrell gold and the Iron Bank’s support, they can raise an army of mercenaries. Jaime, however, has just seen the Dothraki fight. He explains that to them, slaughtering the Lannister forces was not war–it was sport. He is correct. He describes Drogon’s mighty powers of destruction and that Qyburn’s Scorpion couldn’t stop him. And that was just one dragon. He tells Cersei they cannot win this war.
Cersei suggests that Tyrion intercede on their behalf as a way of apologizing for killing their father and Joffrey. Jaime delivers Lady Olenna’s message. At first Cersei doesn’t believe it, but Jaime convinces her. It doesn’t really matter who killed Joffrey–Cersei will never let go of her hatred for Tyrion. Cersei is pissed that she listened to Jaime and let him kill Lady Olenna painlessly with poison. She should have died screaming. Jaime points out that she’s dead, her son and grandchildren are dead, and her entire house is gone. Cersei’s had her revenge. Jaime warns that if they don’t find a way to get out of this war the same thing will happen to them. Since Cersei is incapable of listening to reason she chooses to fight and die rather than submit and die. WHY, Jaime, WHY are you so enthralled with this woman??
Drogon and Dany approach Dragonstone as Jon Snow stares out to sea, no doubt brooding about the Night King. He takes in the awesome sight of Drogon coming in for a landing, and barely flinches when Drogon walks toward him, roaring in his face. Drogon knows a Targaryen when he sees one! Dany watches anxiously from Drogon’s back as Jon Snow removes his glove with a flourish and reaches out to stroke the dragon’s snout. Drogon allows the caress. Dany watches them in wonder and I think she falls in love with Jon Snow in that moment. What single mother doesn’t want to find a suitable father for her children?
Dany says, “they’re beautiful, aren’t they?” When Jon replies that “beautiful” isn’t the word he was thinking of, he realizes he’s hurt her feelings and immediately backtracks, agreeing that they are indeed beautiful–“gorgeous,” in fact. Jon notes that Dany wasn’t gone long and she says she has fewer enemies today than she did yesterday. Jon is conflicted about either her tactics or the outcome of the battle–I’m not sure which, and I don’t understand why. She reminds him of the thousands of men he killed during the Battle of the Bastards and says that they both want to help people, but they can’t do it unless they are in a position of strength. And sometimes strength is terrible.
Dany asks Jon what Davos meant when he said Jon took a knife to the heart for his people. Jon tells her that sometimes Davos gets carried away. Why doesn’t he just tell her? What is the significance of his reticence? She presses him, asking if it’s just a figure of speech. Earnest Jon Snow can’t lie, but he is saved from answering by the Dothraki, who approach Dany with someone claiming to be her friend.
It’s Jorah! Dany is greatly moved to see him, cured of greyscale and ready to serve. I’m glad Jon gets to see firsthand the kind of loyalty she inspires. He’s heard of it from Missandei, but witnessing Dany and Jorah’s heartfelt reunion should drive it home for him. I hope so, because now I’m hardcore shipping Dany and Jon Snow.
Bran has warged into one of a flock of ravens flying north. He sees the army of the dead on the march, and tells Maester Wolkan they need to send ravens.
The Citadel maesters scoff at the missive from Winterfell. Sam urges them to take it seriously and send ravens instructing the Westerosi lords to send men to reinforce the Wall. He implores them to consult the ancient scrolls to find a way to defeat the Night King once and for all. But Sam is doomed to be frustrated by the sluggish inertia that plagues the Citadel. The Archmaester allows that Bran’s message might be authentic, but it could just as easily be a ploy of the “dragon queen” to lure Westerosi soldiers north so she can take the lands they’re currently defending. The maesters will do nothing until they get to the bottom of it. Sam leaves the room and the maesters discuss the recent demise of his father and brother. They haven’t had the heart to tell him yet. I wonder how he will take it, given his estrangement from his family?
Tyrion is justifying Dany’s actions at the Reach to Varys. Varys thinks she’s getting dangerously close to Mad King territory and warns Tyrion that he needs to make her listen. Jon asks Varys about the scroll he’s holding and asks if he’s read it. Varys feigns indignance, saying that it’s a sealed scroll for the King in the North. Tyrion asks him what it says. HA! I love how Tyrion and Varys have no illusions about each other’s questionable ways.
The scroll finds its way to Jon Snow and he realizes that Arya and Bran are not dead like he thought. But being Jon Snow, he can’t take even a moment to rejoice over this news and instead dwells on Bran’s vision of the Night King’s army. He needs to go back to Winterfell and fight with the insufficient men he has, unless Dany will lend him her forces. She thinks if she does this, she will be handing Westeros to Cersei.
Tyrion comes up with a plot to prove the White Walkers’ existence to Cersei by capturing a wight and showing it to her. She only listens to Jaime (except she doesn’t) and Jaime might listen to him. Davos will smuggle Tyrion into King’s Landing and Tyrion will try to convince Jaime of the looming threat Beyond the Wall. Ser Jorah volunteers to go north and capture a wight. Jon says the Free Folk will help them. Davos points out the Free Folk won’t follow Jorah, but Jon Snow knows they will follow him. Dany looks alarmed at the prospect of Jon Snow participating in such a dangerous mission (ship, ship, ship) and tells him she hasn’t given him permission to leave Dragonstone. Jon Snow doesn’t need permission–he is a king. Dany was a stranger to him when he came to Dragonstone, but still he trusted that she wouldn’t burn him alive or otherwise kill him. Now he asks her to place her trust in him. She agrees.
At Winterfell, the Northern Lords are complaining about Jon Snow’s prolonged absence and thinking maybe they should have chosen Sansa to rule over them instead. Sansa weakly defends Jon while Arya surveys the scene with consternation. She thinks Sansa should have made more of an effort to stand up for Jon. She notes that Sansa is now ensconced in Ned and Catelyn’s chamber and that she always liked nice things because they made her feel better than everyone else. There are a lot of unresolved issues between these two.
Arya thinks Sansa should keep the Northern Lords in line by chopping off a few heads, but Sansa explains (a bit patronizingly) that while chopping off heads may be satisfying, the only way to survive is to work together. Arya adds that if Jon doesn’t return, Sansa will need the Northmen’s support which is why she doesn’t want to do anything to incur their wrath now. Sansa
acts is appalled at Arya’s analysis of her motives but Arya doesn’t back down. There is more than a leftover childhood rivalry going on here–there is a complete lack of trust and maybe even a little hatred. It scares me.
Tyrion and Davos land on the beach at King’s Landing. Tyrion is going to meet Jaime in secret while Davos tends to business in Fleabottom. Bronn leads Jaime into the Red Keep’s catacombs under the guise of weapons training. Jaime is angry with Tyrion for killing Tywin but the soft spot he has for him is still apparent. Poor Jaime is so torn–I think he hates himself for loving Cersei and knows he should join forces with Tyrion and Dany, but he never will. Tyrion tells Jaime that Dany will win the war, but she is willing to suspend hostilities while Westeros deals with the Night King–if Cersei will play ball.
Davos finds Gendry(!) plying his trade in a smithing shop in Fleabottom. Gendry has been waiting for something to happen–he’s tired of making Lannister weapons–and is packed and ready to go with Davos. A couple of guards catch them as they load up their boat and shake Davos down for a payoff. All seems to go well until Tyrion approaches the beach and the guards recognize the dwarf with the scar on his face. There is a moment of tension until Gendry grabs his hammer and unceremoniously kills the guards. Gendry is a badass. Welcome back, Gendry!
Jaime tells Cersei that Dany wants to meet to discuss an armistice. Cersei wants Jaime to punish Bronn for setting up the meeting with Tyrion without Jaime’s knowledge or consent. God, can she just stop with the power trip? Of course she can’t–she’s Cersei. She is unmoved by tales of armies of the dead and vows they will defeat any obstacle that faces them because–ugh!–she’s pregnant. Just gross. Now she and Jaime have a legacy to fight for once again. She will tell the world that Jaime is the father of this child and just like that, Jaime is completely sucked back into her web. Is she lying? Will she have a sudden miscarriage a couple of months down the road, after she has secured Jaime’s total devotion and is satisfied that his affection for Tyrion will never trump his loyalty to her? I don’t put anything past her.
Against Davos’ advice, upon meeting Jon Snow Gendry immediately tells him he’s the bastard son of Robert Baratheon. They seem to bond over their fathers’ relationship and Gendry offers to go North with Jon. As Jorah prepares to leave for Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, he and Tyrion reminisce about their adventures in Essos. Tyrion gives him the coin the slavers gave them, and tells Jorah to bring it back. Aww!
Dany exchanges farewells with Jorah, then it’s time to say good-bye to Jon Snow. She says she’s grown used to him and he wishes her good fortune in the wars to come. Dany looks forlorn as she watches Jon Snow take his leave. Ship!
Gilly is reading fun facts from High Septan Maynard’s journal to Sam as they study by candlelight. Apparently High Septan Maynard recorded endless minutiae about his daily activities, including an annulment and secret marriage he performed for RHAEGAR TARGARYEN in DORNE! JON SNOW IS NOT A BASTARD! He is the legitimate son of Rhaegar and Lyanna! Oh my God–I can only anticipate the identity crisis Jon will have once this information comes to light. Fresh fodder for brooding once the Night King is (hopefully) defeated.
This bombshell doesn’t register with Sam. He has had it with the Citadel and is sick of reading about the “accomplishments of better men,” tm Randyll Tarly. He steals a bunch of scrolls and books and he, Gilly and Little Sam leave the Citadel in the middle of the night. Hopefully they’re headed to Winterfell.
Arya is spying on Littlefinger. Maester Wolkan gives him a scroll and assures him it’s the only copy at Winterfell. Arya breaks into Littlefinger’s chamber and searches for it. She finds it tucked into a slit in the mattress. It’s the scroll Cersei made Sansa send to Robb, telling him to pledge his fealty to Joffrey. Littlefinger watches as Arya steals out of his room, satisfied that his little plot has worked. Wow, he’s good. He set it up so that Arya would hear him thank Maester Wolkan on Lady Stark’s behalf, and Arya would think Sansa wanted to remove the scroll from Winterfell’s records. And of course instead of confronting Sansa about it and getting the real story, Arya will remain silent while her suspicion and distrust for her sister just grow and grow. The rift between these two has just become a gulf. I hate Littlefinger. I thought between Bran and Arya, he wouldn’t be able to get away with his games at Winterfell. I was wrong. Bad things are indeed coming, Ser Davos.
Jon Snow and Davos are explaining their plan to Tormund Giantsbane at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. He points out they don’t have enough men for the mission, but he’s just disappointed they didn’t bring Brienne. He brings them to the cells where the Brotherhood is being held. They explain they are there because the Lord of Light showed the Hound the army of the dead. Jon recognizes the Hound and Gendry recognizes Thoros and Beric. Thoros recognizes Jorah and calls him by his full name. This does not sit well with Tormund, since as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, Jeor Mormont hunted down wildlings like they were animals. Jorah retorts that the wildlings returned the favor.
The Hound is tired of the chitchat and asks if the Brotherhood will be allowed to accompany Jon and Co. Jon agrees, because they’re all on the same side–they’re all breathing, after all. The gate lifts and everyone ventures into the swirling snow Beyond the Wall.
Next week: an apparent ambush by the wights, and I will spend this week in a low state of terror.