George RR Martin’s sprawling “seven” book fantasy series has long been known as A Song of Fire and Ice and tonight’s episode played homage by finally ‘bringing fire and ice together’ and acknowledging as much through dialogue by red priestess Melisandre. Of course, she’s referring to the convergence of central players Jon Snow, bastard, and King in the North, and Daenerys Targaryen, mother of dragons, the unburnt, breaker of chains, storm born, Khaleesi, and more titles than you or Jon Snow expected to hear. Hence the perplexed face (above). There’s a dichotomy here, that plays out throughout the episode, that between fire and ice, represented by Daenerys and Jon, and their expectations of one another and how those should play out. It’s central to the episode, and there series plot lines, and despite feeling rushed (we go from Jon, at the Wall, saying he will go, to Jon being there in the span of minutes) is effective and satisfying.[Editor’s Note: This recap will obviously go into detail about last night’s episode of Game of Thrones, so there are going to be a ton of spoilers. Final warning! ~ Nick, copied and pasted by Rick]
Part of last week’s episode focused on the plausibility of Jon heading to Dragonstone to answer Daenerys’s summons: should he put his fate in her hands, following in the footsteps of his father heading south to King’s Landing? Ultimately, Jon decides he has no choice as eventually, people other than those up in the frozen north are going to need to believe that more than wildlings have been amassing beyond the wall.
This episode begins by playing on the tensions of a northerner and Stark answering the summons of a ‘southron’ lord. Jon, greeted on the beach by Tyrion and a small group of Dothraki warriors, after a delightful introduction via callbacks to season 1 (“The bastard of Winterfell,” “The dwarf of Casterly Rock”), is asked to hand over his weapons and fully place his fate (and life) in the hands of his hosts/captors. The drama revolves around two unbending points of view: Daenerys believes she is fulfilling her destiny, has achieved her homeland, and has her goals within reach; Jon believes all jockeying for the Iron Throne is the bickering of “children” and that all need to face their common foe in the north … the White Walkers, army of the dead, and the Night King. Neither position allows for bending or expansion to understand the point of view of the other, so fixated are they on their goals, they’re unable to even understand how they appear in the perspective of the other. It’s as if they’re yelling their respective positions at two opposing walls, and of course, either wall is unable to comprehend or respond helpfully.
Luckily, Tyrion is there, understanding both leaders, their positions, and their unwillingness to appreciate other points of view. He attempts to lead them towards positions of compromise and understanding, advising Jon to try to see things from Danny’s perspective: a man she’s met once, and knows not at all, is advising her to give up her lifelong goal right as it’s in hand, to pursue what sounds like fantasy in its stead. Furthermore, he urges Jon not to judge her for her father and to get to know her through the people who serve her and believe her. Reasonable advice, especially as Jon has, by refusing to ‘bend the knee’ and maintaining himself King in the north, become her de facto prisoner. Tyrion also advises Danny to give Jon something by giving him nothing–that is, access to the weapons-grade stash of plutonium, sorry, dragon glass underneath Dragonstone. A trifle thing Danny didn’t know of and does not need.
And it’s a good thing Tyrion is proving his worth here, though perhaps imperceptibly to his mistress, as elsewhere, his battle stratagems are being decisively beaten, aka, he’s failing miserably. Last episode we saw their Ironborn and Dornish allies fall to Euron Greyjoy. This week we see Danny’s divided forces in the form of the Unsullied take Casterly Rock only to discover it’s mostly been abandoned by the bulk of the Lannister forces. And then Euron’s armada shows up to destroy the vessels that carried the Unsullied there.
Oh, and those missing Lannister forces, well, they marched to High Garden and beat the snot out of the Tyrell forces. And that old grandma who’s been meddling in this Game for so long? SPOILER: she doesn’t make it–though she does go out in style.
- Ser Jorah has conveniently been cured of greyscale. Look for him to be by Danny’s side next week.
- After wasting nearly an entire half-episode on a Greyworm sex scene, GoT stuck to the important deets this week and only diverted for some incestuous Cersei-Jaime fellatio and one gratuitous Jaime-butt shot for three minutes, culminating in Cersei declaring that as queen, she can do what she wants, including fuck her brother and let everyone know of it. No offense, but wasn’t she queen before when all this started? People still aren’t cool with this lady.
- Cersei continues to show just how evil she is when she devises her revenge on Ellaria Sand. It’s some skin-tingling stuff, brother. I mean, there are massive overtures that the Mountain is going to do something grotesque, but Cersei goes even badder and crueler. Don’t mess with this woman.
- Which brings me to: WHY DO PEOPLE CONTINUE TO UNDERESTIMATE THE LANNISTERS? This includes Tyrion. Everyone is getting outmaneuvered, and most of Danny’s allies are dead or imprisoned now.
- There’s plenty of alluding to the forthcoming revelations regarding Jon’s heritage and status, as Danny beats the ‘last Dragon’ bit to death. No, sorry Danny, you’re not the last. Look for Jon to come out of a fire, unburnt, soon, maybe to end the season? It’s coming. Oh, it’s coming.
- Ser Davos, Onion Knight extraordinaire, shows his worth again as trusted advisor to leaders everywhere: as Jon is unable to form full thoughts from his still thawing mouth, Ser Davos comes to the rescue with reasonable explanations and pontifications. Good work there, chum. Though he did almost reveal that Jon’s a zombie. WHOOPS.
- The interesting meeting between Melisandre and Varys: what was this about? We know why she’s hiding from Jon and Davos, but what was she referring to re. Varys’s death, and her own?
- The episode continues to promote the idea that Sansa is ‘smarter than she lets on.’ Tyrion references it, Jon seconds it, and then Sansa demonstrates it. I get that she’s picked up stratagems and the ‘game’ a bit by being around the likes of Cersei, Tryion, and Littlefinger (and Ramsay, etc., etc.), but what does she know of food stores for armies and armoring soldiers for deep winter? Maybe she knows a lot; maybe she’s revealing these hidden depths (clearly absent when the show begins and all she wants to do is see knights and beautiful King’s Landing), but that seemed a tad forced–the only part of the episode that did, outside of …
- TRAVELING HAPPENING IN MOMENTS. The show-runners have long stated that they chose not to focus on travel and instead on what happens when people get where they’re going, but due to accelerating storylines, people seem to be hopping about with Star Trek like teleportation technologies. It’s confusing at times, as Euron appears to be in three places, simultaneously, maybe just more of an understanding that time is passing between scenes, as is not often clear.
- BRAN STARK IS CREEPY. ‘Nuff said.
WHO WAS THERE:
Jon, Danny, Melisandre, Missandei, Greyworm, Varys, Tryion, Davos, Jaime, Cersei, Sam, Jorah, The Mountain, Sansa, Littlefinger, Jaime, Lady Olena, Davos, Bran, and Meera Reed (doesn’t even get a line–she’s just there, sort of), Theon, Yara, Ellaria, Remaining Sand Snake, Qyburn
WHO’S CONSPICUOUSLY ABSENT: