Familiar faces return, and the growing threat of the White Walkers looms over Westeros.
After last week’s fiery episode, there was a lot to live up to this week, but in typical Game of Thronesstyle, this week’s episode proves that conversation can be just as heated as battle, and there’s some important things slowly coming to light.
On the Roseroad
The cliffhanger of last week’s episode is answered immediately with Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) emerging, just about unscathed from the wrath of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Drogon.
In the meantime, Daenerys demands the surviving Lannister and Tarly men bend the knee, and threatens death if they don’t comply. Randyll and his son, Dickon (yes it is still okay to laugh at that name) refuse however, and she sentences them to a fiery death. Prior to this, there is a great scene of Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) surveying the damage on the battlefield, and his concerns that Daenerys may be abusing her power are evident through his facial expressions alone.
No longer making awkward conversation with his sisters, Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) uses his warging powers and sees through the eyes of ravens, travelling beyond the Wall to locate the army of the dead. We finally get the chance to see the Night King again who glances knowingly at the ravens, forcing Bran to return to his body. Bran then requests that ravens be sent throughout the Seven Kingdoms as a warning.
There’s some Stark sister tension as Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya (Maisie Williams) bicker about the best way to run Winterfell. Sansa favours diplomacy but Arya has seen the horrors of Westeros and favours a harder approach. The ticking time-bomb that is Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen) reaches a dramatic point this week, and it seems only a matter of time before his true intentions are revealed, with both Bran and Arya having some dirt on him. The latter this week pursues her suspicions and follows him. Witnessing him being handed a mysterious scroll, Arya decides to break into his room and retrieve it. It was difficult to read in the episode, but further research states that it was the scroll that Sansa wrote following Robert Baratheon’s death, asking her family to swear loyalty to King Joffrey. Upon leaving the room, the tables have turned and Baelish is watching Arya from the shadows. It feels like only a matter of time before creepy Petyr gets his comeuppance, and honestly it couldn’t come soon enough.
Archmaester Ebrose (Jim Broadbent) receives the scroll from Bran but questions its validity. Sam (John Bradley) interrupts and states he met Bran, and what he has to say is true. Sam in many ways is the bridge between us and that world, as we know he is telling the truth, and John Bradley has to be commended for the warmth and humanity he brings to his role.
Later, we see Sam and Gilly (Hannah Murray) reading through some scrolls. Gilly happens upon perhaps one of the most important reveals in Game of Thrones to date; that being that Rhaegar Targaryen had his marriage annulled and was remarried in a secret ceremony. Just in case you missed the significance of this (as Sam and Gilly both did!), this means that Jon Snow is a legitimate child, the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark who he remarried, and long story short is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. The ‘R+L=J’ theory has been doing the rounds for years now and it is great that confirmation is slowly trickling in. The audience having this information and the upper hand on the characters within the show is part of what makes this series, and this season in particular, so great. It means that when the pieces gradually fall into place, it will be immensely satisfying. However, this is also Game of Thrones so we’ve learnt not to get our hopes up or have character attachments by now.
Sam realises he can no longer help anyone at the Citadel so he leaves in the dead of night, with Gilly, and a wagon-load of texts that deal with the Long Night.
Daenerys returns to her home and meets with Jon (Kit Harrington). She is surprised to find that Drogon allows Jon to pet him; there’s that other hint about him being a Targaryen everyone! There’s also a genuinely lovely moment when Ser Jorah (Iain Glen) returns to his beloved Khaleesi, and she accepts him back into her service.
Having also received Bran’s warning, Jon states that he is going to head beyond the Wall and fight the army of the dead, which Daenerys rejects. Tyrion interjects and suggests bringing evidence of the army of the dead to Cersei, in the hopes of convincing her to join their fight. Jon then decides to lead a party north of the Wall, and Tyrion and Davos (Liam Cunningham) head for King’s Landing in order for Tyrion to meet with Jaime.
Tyrion and Davos arrive at King’s Landing, where Tyrion heads off to find Jaime and Davos heads off to Flea Bottom. Later, Jaime follows Bronn underneath King’s Landing where he finds Tyrion waiting for him with news of the army of the dead. Jaime tells Cersei of his meeting with Tyrion and also tells her that it was Olenna who killed Joffrey. Cersei questions Tyrion’s warning, still sceptical of her brother’s intentions. She also hints that she is pregnant and when people ask who the father is, she will openly admit that the child is the product of the incestuous relationship between her and Jaime. Lena Headey continues to be the MVP of this series, and the way her emotions change on a dime in this scene is extraordinary. That flicker of emotion whenever her children are mentioned briefly breaks the fierce facade, and it is wonderful to watch.
Meanwhile in Flea Bottom, Davos heads to a weaponry where he finds (insert drum roll here), Gendry! Last seen rowing away from Dragonstone after being assisted by Davos, Gendry (Joe Dempsie) returned to King’s Landing and remained hidden for many years. The subject of much mockery from the fans for several seasons, it is great to see Gendry back again, and it also provides the wonderful opportunity for Davos to crack a knowing joke about Gendry still rowing somewhere. More than willing to leave, Gendry and Davos return to their boat where they are confronted by two gold cloak guards. Upon spotting Tyrion, the guards become suspicious and Gendry is forced to kill the guards with his warhammer. As one of the few bloody moments of this episode, this new weapon does not disappoint and Gendry is absolutely not to be messed with.
Despite being the title of this episode, we have to wait until the dying moments to get to Eastwatch, where Jon meets with Tormund (Kristofer Hivju). Jon informs Tormund that he intends to go beyond the wall and capture a Wight. Jon is taken to the cells where he finds the Brotherhood without Banners, and another returning character, The Hound (Rory McCann). The Brotherhood, Gendry, Jorah, Tormund and Jon then set out beyond the Wall, with Davos remaining at Eastwatch.
The great thing about Game of Thrones is that it can follow up an episode as amazing as last week’s one, with one which is admittedly more dialogue driven, but no less important. There is a higher sense of urgency in this season with events occurring almost immediately after they have been spoken about, whereas in previous seasons we might have been waiting a view episodes for characters to get from A to B. This shorter season format is undoubtedly working, it never feels rushed, but instead it feels driven and purposeful. Big and small reveals are coming left, right and centre, old characters are coming back and there is an overriding sense of the need for unity against an unimaginable threat. The war for the Throne is undoubtedly still important, but this looming threat of the White Walkers is chipping away like an icepick, and with only two more episodes to go, it feels like this part of the story is only just beginning.