In one of the final episodes of the season, “Eastwatch” sets up several unlikely confrontations for the few that remain. A caper is devised to convince the realm of the seriousness of the threat up North, while Littlefinger maneuvers the Stark sisters into a divisive battle. While we are treated to some unexpected reunions, the happy homecomings are cut short by “dark wings, dark words,” as Bran informs the realm that the White Walkers are on the move.
Jaime is still alive, despite the weight of his armor (and just how impossible it seems that Bronn would have been able to pull him that far underwater…). As they sit on the shore recovering, Jaime and Bronn both know the war is over before it has hardly begun, especially if Daenerys uses all three of her dragons in battle.
Jaime returns to King’s Landing in order to break the news to Cersei. The dragons, plus the strength of the Dothraki, will be no match for whatever mercenary forces they can muster up. However, Cersei correctly points out that they are without any good options; they cannot surrender themselves and expect clemency, since Jaime murdered Daenerys’s father, the Mad King. She jokes that they could appeal to Tyrion, although he murdered their father and Joffrey, so why wouldn’t they expect the same treatment? Jaime manages to convince a skeptical Cersei that it was Lady Olenna, in fact, who murdered Joffrey, since she had more to gain by having her granddaughter married to the kinder and more pliable King Tommen.
“So we fight and die or we submit and die. I know my choice.”
In the aftermath of the Battle of the Goldroad, Tyrion looks alarmed as he surveys the damage. He is conflicted to have participated in such carnage against what was once his own people. He joins Daenerys as she holds court before the captured Lannister soldiers, proclaiming that she is not the brutal queen Cersei has warned them about.
She declares that she wants to break the “wheel of power that rolls over the rich and poor alike, to no one’s benefit but people like Cersei Lannister.” This is reminiscent of one of her first meetings with Tyrion, when she convinced him to become her adviser. “Lannister, Targaryen, Baratheon, Stark, Tyrell– they’re all just spokes on a wheel. This one’s on top, then that one’s on top, and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground… I’m not going to stop the wheel. I’m going to break the wheel.” It’s a declaration of her intent to win the support of the common people over the wealthy, and she tries it here with the Lannister prisoners. She gives them a choice: bend the knee and work together to make the world a better place, or refuse and die.
However, her tactic fails. It’s only the dragon above her that manages to convince the soldiers of their need to submit to her rule. It was easier to appeal to the people of Slaver’s Bay, whom she freed from bondage. The Westerosi are already free, and facing down a foreign invader with terrifying dragons has hardly the same effect on them as it once had on the slaves. Those that do kneel do so only out of fear of her dragon, not love of Daenerys. This is new to her.
Daenerys is forced to make examples of Randyll and Dickon Tarly, who proudly refuse to submit to the foreign invader. Tyrion tries in vain to convince her that she is making a mistake by executing them. He tries to get Randyll sent to the Wall, but Randyll refuses. When Dickon steps forward, Tyrion tries to get Daenerys to put them in a cell, but she refuses to put any of her enemies “in chains.” Instead, she carries out the sentence, roasting Randyll and Dickon alive with a powerful blast of Drogon’s dragonfire. All of the remaining soldiers kneel at the sight of this terror.
Upon reflection with Varys back on Dragonstone, Tyrion is horrified, but trying to justify Daenerys’s actions. “All rulers demand that people bend the knee. That’s why they’re rulers. She gave Tarly a choice, a man who had taken up arms against her. What else could she do?” After Daenerys roasted the Tarlys much like her father did to the Starks, they worry that they’ve enabled another Mad King. In a signal of their shared anxiety, Varys actually joins him in a drink. He tells Tyrion that as an adviser to the Mad King, he often tried to tell himself that it was not him that was burning people alive, though he did nothing to stop it. The guilt of “I’m not the one doing it” on his conscience is clear, and he tells Tyrion that he must find a better way to get Daenerys to listen to him, lest they end up with a Mad Queen on the throne.
When Daenerys rides home to Dragonstone on the back of Drogon, the dragon approaches Jon at a clip. He stands bravely before the creature as its face draws nearer to him, though clearly terrified. He reaches out a hand and manages to pet the tamed dragon on the snout, much to the relief of both Jon and Daenerys. There is a shot of the dragon’s eye considering him, signalling what we all already know: Jon has Targaryen blood flowing through his veins. Daenerys is definitely intrigued by Jon, as she’s shown considering him strongly, but quietly, throughout the episode. They might be heading toward a love affair, as Davos pointed out last week that he’s seen Jon taking notice of Daenerys himself, and this week Daenerys seems to be returning the favor. They wouldn’t know of their relation to one another, and it’s unclear if Daenerys would care even if she did; Targaryens are notorious for “keeping it in the family.”
Just as Daenerys starts to warm up to Jon, her longtime friend Ser Jorah Mormont finally returns to her service. Thanks to Sam, he has been cured of his disease. Their reunion is tender, and they seem almost on the verge of kissing. Jorah has been in love with Daenerys all along, but Daenerys has not always returned his romantic feelings. His unlikely return has clearly had an effect on her.
Bran wargs into ravens and flies them north of the Wall to spy on the White Walkers. Just over Eastwatch-by-the-Sea (the title of this episode and the easternmost castle along the Wall), he finds the undead troops marching south in great numbers. The Night King is able to spot Bran in the ravens, breaking the warg and sending the birds scurrying away. Alarmed by what he saw, he instructs Maester Wolkan to send ravens to several across the realm in order to alert them of the proximity of the threat.
One of the ravens is sent to the Citadel, where the maesters consider its news. Most of the maesters are highly skeptical about it, even though Sam tries to convince them of its veracity. He argues that Bran, a “crippled boy,” survived for years beyond the Wall when no one else could and that they should probably listen to him. “Everyone in Westeros trusts and respects you. If you tell people the threat is real, they’ll believe you.” He tries to get them to employ all the maesters at the Citadel in service to researching everything possible about the Long Night (the last time the White Walkers were seen and defeated) in order to deduce how they should destroy the undead army once and for all.
The maesters admit that the news could be authentic, or it could be a ploy by Queen Cersei to get the southern lords sent north and out of the way. In considering all sides of the story, they in fact settle on nothing, choosing inaction instead of listening to the evidence Sam presents them. They are so removed from the reality of the world, instead fixated on speculation, debate, and false prophecies, that they are incapable of believing what Sam and Maester Wolkan are telling them.
Frustrated, Sam returns to his rooms and half-listens to Gilly as she reads from an old septon’s diary. She asks what an “annulment” means, then reads that the High Septon Maynard issued an annulment for a Prince “Regger” (Rhaegar) and remarried him to someone else at the same time in a secret ceremony in Dorne. This is a big reveal (to be discussed more in the “other thoughts” section below), but Sam is too frustrated with the maesters’ inaction to pay much attention to Gilly’s clue. He gives Little Sam the diary to play with while he goes and steals some documents from the locked section of the Citadel once again. Hopefully he chooses the sources wisely, as he then departs the Citadel altogether with Gilly and Little Sam in tow. He gives up on his dream of becoming a maester because, as he says to Gilly, “I’m tired of reading about the achievements of better men.” (This is a nod to what his father said to him last season. Little does he know, Sam is now the last man living of his once-great house.)
One of the ravens also ended up at Dragonstone, where Jon learns not only that Bran and Arya are still alive, but also that the Night King marches on Eastwatch, as he suspected. He is impatient to leave for home, even though he does not have the troops he needs to fight the undead army. Daenerys says she cannot send her army with him, or else she’ll risk Cersei taking over everything while she’s gone. Tyrion suggests that they enlist Cersei’s help by bringing one of the dead to her and convincing her to join them. In order to get an audience with her and make this dangerous caper worthwhile, they need to get assurances that Cersei will meet with them. Tyrion says that he can go to King’s Landing to try and get his brother to convince Cersei to agree to a meeting.
Ser Davos agrees to smuggle Tyrion into King’s Landing, and Ser Jorah volunteers to serve Daenerys by going north for one of the dead soldiers. Jon agrees to lead him beyond the Wall on that mission. Daenerys seems shook up by the idea that both Jorah and Jon are leaving her, but ultimately relents when Jon asks her to return the trust he has already placed in her. “It’s our best chance,” he says.
Tyrion and Davos return to King’s Landing for the first time in a while. Somehow, Tyrion gets help from Bronn in luring Jaime down to the cellars of the Red Keep. Jaime looks conflicted and angry to be there, demanding to know what Tyrion wants. The younger brother says that Daenerys will win the war, but is willing to quit fighting if Cersei agrees to “certain terms.” This is not to bend the knee, as Jaime assumes, but rather to join in the fight against the Army of the Dead– “a more important request.”
Jaime enters Cersei’s room in time to hear Maester Qyburn offer to give Cersei something, but she dismisses him. Right off the bat, Jaime admits to meeting with Tyrion, though Cersei reveals that she already knew about the meeting and let it happen. Jaime tells her that Daenerys is offering a truce in order to deal with the Army of the Dead, and that there will be proof delivered to her of their existence. “An accommodation with the Dragon Queen could be in our immediate interest… Whatever stands in our way, we will defeat it, for ourselves, for our house, for this.” She indicts her abdomen as a signal to her new pregnancy and says she will name her brother as the father, unlike their other children, which stuns Jaime. “People won’t like that,” he says.
Cersei is not bothered. “Do you remember what father used to say about people?” Jaime replies instantly, “The lion does not concern himself with the opinions of the sheep.” (We saw him say this in a conversation with Jaime back in Season 1.) They kiss and embrace warmly, but Cersei warns him, “Never betray me again.” This is probably her best way of ensuring that he doesn’t.
In Flea Bottom, Ser Davos finds the man he was looking for: the long-lost Gendry Baratheon, bastard son of the late King Robert Baratheon, who has been working on the Street of Steel as a blacksmith. Back in Season 3, Ser Davos saved Gendry from the Red Priestess Melisandre, who planned on sacrificing him for his royal blood. He told the boy to row for King’s Landing, and that was the last we saw of him for several years. Now, we know that he followed Davos’s advice, hiding right under Cersei’s nose (she wanted to have all of Robert Baratheon’s bastards killed so that they could not make their own claims for the throne, having been more of Robert’s blood than any of Cersei’s children).
Davos comes to get Gendry ahead of the coming war with the Army of the Undead. Gendry readily agrees to join him, tired of working to arm the Lannisters, the family that murdered his father. Before they go, he grabs his warhammer adorned with a stag sigil– the Baratheon symbol and a nod to his late father, who was famous for his use of a warhammer.
As they’re loading their gear into the boat, two of the city’s guards approach them. Davos is able to cleverly throw them off, offering them a supposed male enhancement drug in the form of fermented crab. He hurries them off to a brothel, but they meet Tyrion on the way out. They are immediately suspicious of a dwarf with a distinctive face scare, assuming he is the wanted Tyrion Lannister, but Gendry quickly exhibits his skill with the warhammer by taking them both out.
In the North, Ser Robett Glover and Lord Yohn Royce declare that they should have supported Sansa all along, still angry with Jon for having gone south against their wishes. With Arya looking on, Sansa politely dismisses them with a simple, “You are very kind, my lords, but Jon is our king. He is doing what he thinks is best.” The rustling discontent of the lords proves to Sansa that she was right to warn Jon about leaving the North, but Arya is not content. She thinks that Sansa is not doing enough to defend Jon’s claim because she lusts for power. “You always liked nice things. Made you feel better than everyone,” Arya says nastily, recalling their childish arguments of old.
Sansa rightly points out that she cannot offend the lords who supply up to 3,500 men for Jon’s army, but Arya wants her to cut off their heads. “Winterfell didn’t just fall into our hands, we took it back… all of us, working together. Now, I’m sure cutting off heads is very satisfying, but that’s not the way you get people to work together,” Sansa says, echoing a position of Jon’s that she previously took issue with, back when it was she who wanted to execute the heads of houses who betrayed them to the Boltons. Perhaps she should have explained this to Arya– that she was carrying out Jon’s own strategy– but Arya accuses her of wishing Jon was dead.
Sansa clearly takes to ruling, but has already been shown gladly relinquishing power to Bran (though he doesn’t take it) and stepping aside for King Jon when that’s what the Northern lords want, despite the laws of inheritance that say she should rule over him. Arya hasn’t seen any of this, of course, but is quick to read evil in her sister’s benign actions.
This is, of course, what Littlefinger wants, and is exactly what he has been orchestrating all along. He failed to get Jon and Sansa to fight, failed to get Bran to take power back from Jon, so is trying once more to pit the two very different sisters against one another. Thanks to Arya’s uncharacteristic lack of imagination, he’s succeeding.
At first, it looks like Arya is getting the better of Littlefinger, spying on him as he takes meetings with a random woman, the lords Glover and Royce, and Maester Wolkan. However, by the end, it’s apparent that Arya is the one getting played. It’s unclear if Littlefinger put Glover and Royce up to speaking against Jon in the earlier meeting with Sansa, or if he’s just holding a private exchange with them knowing Arya would see them and assume that was the case.
When Littlefinger receives an old scroll from Maester Wolkan, he makes it seem like he is working with Sansa behind the scenes to cover up whatever is in that message (“You’re sure this is the only copy in Winterfell? Lady Stark thanks you for your service.”). After sneaking in to steal the scroll, Arya is alarmed by its contents (it’s likely the raven Sansa that Cersei and Littlefinger himself forced her to send to Robb under duress– more on that in the “other thoughts” section below). She leaves, supposedly unseen, until the camera pans to Littlefinger lurking in the shadows. He’s played Arya this whole time, making her believe that Sansa is working with him to undermine Jon and protect her claim as Queen of Winterfell.
From what we know, Sansa does not trust Littlefinger, does not wish Jon dead, and is unlikely to actually be working with Littlefinger to lead a coup against him, but Arya is unwilling or unable to view her sister as anything other than the naive little girl who wanted to be queen so badly she put up with and defended the horrible Joffrey Baratheon. This stubborn belief could prove dangerous (even potentially fatal) for Sansa or even Arya, if they don’t realize what Littlefinger is up to. Littlefinger is likely hoping for Sansa to turn to him for help if and when Arya threatens her, or at least to prevent them from working together in any serious way, as one would expect of sisters. After a couple seasons of disappointing inaction, Littlefinger proves he still is playing the game of thrones better than most.
Back on Dragonstone, Davos tries to get Gendry to introduce himself under a secret identity, not wanting to muddy the waters of succession any more than they already are. However, Gendry defies him instantly and introduces himself to Jon as Robert’s bastard. “Our fathers trusted each other, why shouldn’t we?” Gendry asks Jon. It’s nice to see the two bastards, so enamored of their fathers, bonding like their fathers once did long ago.
As the men who are leaving for the North prepare to ship out, Tyrion and Jorah share a moment bonding over how far they’ve come since they were enslaved together. He tells him to be sure to come back. “Our queen needs you.” Daenerys and Jorah say a heartfelt goodbye once more, and Jon quips that if he dies, at least she won’t have to deal with the King in the North anymore. “I’ve grown used to him,” she replies, watching the men leave with emotion in her face.
When the crew reaches Eastwatch-by-the-Sea and meets with Tormund Giantsbane, the wildling leader tries to convince Jon that it’s a crazy idea (it pretty much is). As they’re trying to figure out which men to bring with them (they don’t have nearly enough), Tormund tells them about three other men who were found heading towards Eastwatch with the same goal in mind. When Jon is taken to the cells, he finds the Hound, Beric Dondarrion, and Thoros of Myr (what’s left of the Brotherhood Without Banners) in captivity.
This is a multi-part reunion for these men. For one, Jon recognizes the Hound from Winterfell, all the way back in Season 1. Gendry knows them from the time that they sold him to Melisandre, and hates them for it. Jorah fought alongside Thoros of Myr and his flaming sword in the Siege of Pyke during the Greyjoy Rebellion (which he recounted to Ser Barristan Selmy all the way back in Season 3). Tormund realizes that Jorah is Lord Commander Mormont’s son, and recalls that the older man “hunted” wildlings. “You returned the favor, as I recall,” Jorah retorts.
Yet all of them must band together to serve a “greater purpose,” according to Beric. “We’re all on the same side,” Jon says. “We’re all breathing.” Minus Ser Davos, who says more than once that he’s useless in a fight, the men walk through the gates at Eastwatch to range north of the Wall.
Other thoughts on “Eastwatch”:
- Unlike this season’s other episode titles, the title is not a very consequential one; it is named after a location that hardly features in any serious way– Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.
- I had a lot of trouble with some of the plots introduced in this episode. I’m not normally one to nit-pick this show; I feel they generally get things right, and there’s always a degree of the suspension of disbelief that is a prerequisite to fully enjoying shows like this. But this episode was more problematic than most.
- Why does Daenerys leave Jaime alive? It’s odd that Daenerys leaves Jaime without pulling him out of the waters herself, either to make him bend the knee or to finish the job. She knows he’s still alive, as indicated later in her meeting with Tyrion on Dragonstone. Seems odd to leave such a valuable hostage on the field of battle.
- Also disappointing how the weight of Jaime’s armor played little to no effect, after that seemed to be a major signal sent in the final shot of the last episode. Somehow, Bronn pulls him and all his armor underwater for what appears to be some distance?
- What is with this plan to convince Cersei of the looming threat? It just seems wildly forced. I am having a seriously hard time imagining George R.R. Martin’s source material containing something as strange as this seven-man caper to steal a wight to bring south. It seems like they didn’t want to leave the season without a confrontation with the White Walkers, but obviously weren’t ready for the full-scale battle against them (which will likely end the series). So, seven of the MVPs are putting themselves in harm’s way before the final battle… to steal one of the undead… to bring back south… to convince Cersei… to help them… then they have to come back to the North to actually fight? This all seems so needlessly convoluted. Why not just defeat Cersei, who is basically armyless at this point, before she can acquire a mercenary army? Deliver the final blow, then head North. Or, if the threat is that dire, go North and save the realm from the White Walkers in order to win the Seven Kingdoms’ love and appreciation (as Melisandre told Stannis to do). Bring back a wight then, to show everyone what you saved them from. They might not even be able to bring a wight back properly; in Season 1, they tried to send the wriggling hand of a wight south with Ser Alliser Thorne and the hand rotted before it could be presented to the court at King’s Landing. Tyrion should know better than anyone that Cersei is not worth trusting– not for any reason. I truly do not understand this side-plot, especially since it was so hastily put together and presented. In the end, it’s probably just an invention of the TV show to find a way to convince not only Cersei (the stated reason) but also Daenerys/the rest of the realm (the unstated reason) that the threat is real and worth taking seriously.
- Is Sam really such a fool that he doesn’t manage to catch Gilly’s huge reveal that Rhaegar got an annulment of his marriage to Elia Martel? She does say “Regger” but is clearly struggling to read the name; it’s not a stretch to think he’d be able to deduce the Crown Prince’s name from her guess. Sam is a highly-educated lord’s son who should instantly perk up at the name Rhaegar, the previous heir to the Targaryen throne whose rumored kidnapping and rape of Lyanna Stark started a major war. Every child of Westeros, especially the most educated, would know this story inside and out, so the reveal that he got an annulment and had a secret wedding in Dorne, should raise some serious red flags with the accepted storyline. He’s paying attention enough to throw the exact number of stairs back at her, calling them “shits,” so lack of attention isn’t really the problem. Of course, Sam would not know that Jon was the child born of this union, but it would help put together the pieces later when all is revealed (if ever it will be).
- What’s the point of Davos reintroducing Gendry? I mean, he’s a great character, though he’s probably the most minor character to receive such a rabid following of people who constantly wonder where he is. I had accepted that we’d probably never see him again, and that his part had already been played. Why does Ser Davos make a dangerous trip to find him in Flea Bottom? What does he feel he needs Gendry for? As he tells the boy, his identity as Robert Baratheon’s bastard son throws yet another wrench in the whole who-most-deserves-to-sit-on-the-Iron-Throne debate. What’s the point of introducing the complication of him to Daenerys and Jon? So far, it just seems like tying up a popular loose-end (did Gendry ever row to safety?) or introducing a character with an admittedly badass weapon. It was fun to see him instantly bond with Jon, both very much the sons of their (real and adopted) fathers, but trying to understand Davos’s motivations in risking so much to bring this random boy back makes it just seem like a random device to get this popular character back onscreen. Perhaps it’s as simple as he came to see Gendry as the son he lost, implied by this old scene from Season 3, Episode 10, but it still felt like a bit of a stretch to have Davos take the time and the risk to track him down.
- Is Arya really such a fool? The latest conflict is not a total stretch; she’s trained to be an assassin, not a skilled manipulator like Littlefinger, nor a stateswoman like Sansa. Littlefinger is supposed to be unmatched in his cunning. But, it was still disappointing to watch Arya walk into such a big trap. Not only that, it was disheartening to see her written as being so incapable of complex thought. It makes sense that she would not be as politically savvy as Sansa, but for her to totally misunderstand what is not a complicated situation was very disappointing. It felt like the writers totally manufactured a conflict between the Stark girls at the expense of either of their growths as characters, but especially Arya.
- Essentially, she’s asking Sansa to behead a couple of lords who benignly said they should have chosen her as queen (that’s not a stretch for them to think, either; she’s the trueborn heir to that throne, since Bran abdicated it, and Arya should know that). Jon did not even behead the families that openly broke their vows to the Starks and fought against him. Sansa should have told Arya this in her own defense, but instead the writers chose to show the two girls as if they were the same girls from Season 1.
- Arya’s also circling her sister like a shark because… Sansa wants power? Gosh, if that was reason enough to get on Arya’s (s)hit-list, you could add just about any person left standing in Westeros at this point. I’m blown away that Arya would misread the situation so badly. She was trained in the House of Black and White and came out thinking in those binary terms, I guess; she now seems totally incapable of nuance. That the writers would create such a situation, proving that Sansa and Arya haven’t even attempted to reconnect in the time after they were reunited, seems lazy and frankly unbelievable. You cannot tell me, no matter how much they did not get along before everything that happened, that there would be no attempt on either’s part to restore a relationship when they were finally together again.
- Arya gets played by Littlefinger like a fiddle, and for such a stupid reason full of unrealistic plot holes. Even if Arya was right about Sansa, for her to plunge head-first into accusations and bickering is also a betrayal of her character’s growth– the real Arya, as written, wouldn’t confront Sansa about planning a coup, she’d wear a face and spy on her, or use subtlety to work out Sansa’s true motivations. Instead, she’s snipping at her sister for sleeping in their dead parents’ room and accusing her of wanting Jon dead, right in the open. It was probably my least favorite Arya episode to date. A total character mauling by the writers. I hope it’s remedied in time to spare Sansa’s life and/or preserve Arya’s amazing character arc.
- The scroll Arya finds in Littlefinger’s room is likely the note that Cersei made Sansa write to Robb in Season 1. I highly recommend watching this scene from Season 1’s “The Pointy End.” Everyone, including Varys and Cersei, tell Sansa that her father was a traitor. She denies that her father would be capable of “plotting to steal Joffrey’s rightful throne.” She’s threatened by Cersei and Maester Pycelle, who claims that it’s only a matter of time before a traitor’s daughter commits treason herself. Littlefinger, it’s important to note, is the one who steps in to insist that Sansa be given the opportunity to write a letter. “The girl is innocent, your grace, she should be given the chance to prove her loyalty.” Cersei gets her to write her brother, Robb, in order to tell him of his father’s crimes and convince him to swear his fealty to Joffrey. Sansa balks at first and asks to see Ned, wondering what will happen to him. Cersei says, “That depends… on your brother, and you,” then hands her a quill. Sansa will have been made to believe the note is her only chance of helping to save her father’s life.
- Then, watch this scene showing Robb receiving the letter (which Littlefinger plants for Arya to find in this episode). Robb cannot believe that Sansa would write such a note, and Maester Luwin correctly points out that “it is your sister’s hand, but the queen’s words.” It actually convinces Robb to call his banners against the Lannisters.
- So, if Robb cannot believe that Sansa would write such a note, and Maester Luwin instantly sees the plot, why would Arya be so blind to it? She’s probably going to read that note and use it against Sansa, accusing her of thinking their father was a traitor and participating in his death just so that she could retain her title as eventual Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. After all, one of their last interactions together was when Sansa stuck up for Joffrey in a way that ended up getting her friend, the butcher’s boy, killed. Arya will think this is the same Sansa, putting her own aspirations above doing the right thing for her family. She’ll use it as Littlefinger wants her to– as ammunition against Sansa’s supposed hunger for power above all else. It could honestly lead to Sansa’s death, and for what? Chaos is a ladder, of course, and Littlefinger has been trying to sow discord among the Starks since the beginning at Winterfell; first, it was Sansa and Jon, then Jon and Bran, then Arya and Sansa. It’s odd to me that Arya is the only one falling for it. Anyway, it’s not the sisterly reunion I was hoping for, that’s for damn sure.
- Who is the woman with the basket that Arya catches Littlefinger talking to? He hands her something before she walks away. It’s unclear if this is just a test to see if Arya is watching him, or if he is using that woman for something.
- Gilly’s reveal is so huge because it means that Jon has a stronger claim to the Iron Throne than Daenerys. As the lawful son of Prince Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark, he would be first in the line of succession over Rhaegar’s younger sister, Daenerys. What’s unclear is whether these rules of succession would be preserved even upon death; after all, Jon has already “died” (and they keep showing Daenerys being suspicious of that fact). It would be a bit convoluted, but Daenerys could potentially exploit that fact to preserve her claim as tantamount to his? Unclear what the point of her suspicious is, beyond that.
- The internet is torn heavily between two Daeneryses: the bloodthirsty dictator vs. the good queen and rightful heir to the Iron Throne. I think the show does a good job providing evidence to both sides, since her actual character is pretty nuanced. She’s neither good nor evil, but probably just “more of the same,” as Jon said last episode.
- Jon taming Drogon was not unlike the scene last season when Tyrion did something similar. One of the long-held fan theories is that Jon and Tyrion are both Targaryens (only the former has been confirmed by the show) and destined to be the two other riders of the dragons. The theory about Tyrion would be difficult for the show to reveal at this point, but it’s interesting that the dragons reacted to him much the same way that they reacted to Jon in this episode (when we know Jon to be a Targaryen). The speculation is that Tyrion’s mother, Joanna Lannister (whom we’ve never seen), was raped by the Mad King Aerys multiple times over the course of her life. The hints are there in the books, as rumors are spread about the “unwonted liberties” Aerys took with Joanna, even on her wedding night to Tywin. The last time she was in King’s Landing was in 272 AC, for a tournament. Tywin was so angry with Aerys over his behavior towards his wife at that time that he threatened to resign as Hand of the King. Joanna then died giving birth to Tyrion in 273 AC. Tywin often tells Tyrion some variation of “you’re no son of mine” and is repulsed by him throughout the series– perhaps it is not just because he is a dwarf, as Tyrion reminds us again in this very episode, but instead/also because he is not actually Tywin’s son at all, but the result of the rape of his beloved wife. If true, this would make Tyrion Daenerys’s bastard brother, and Jon’s half-uncle.
- Is Cersei really pregnant? The famous prophecy by Maggy the Frog states that she will only have three children, which she has already had and lost. Cersei came to believe this prophecy as fate after Joffrey and Myrcella were murdered, knowing it was only a matter of time before she lost Tommen, as well. It’s interesting that she seems to believe in her pregnancy in this episode, knowing full well that it would not fit the prophecy. Perhaps she believes that she is defying fate once and for all. Perhaps she knows, deep down, that this child will never be born. Perhaps she’s making the whole thing up in order to assure Jaime’s loyalty, which has been wavering slightly as of late. In any case, the news has its effect, and Jaime seems wholly hers… for now, at least.
- Along these lines, what does Maester Qyburn offer Cersei when Jaime walks in on them? Is he suggesting that he get her something to ease the discomforts of pregnancy, is it a potion (moon tea) to abort the baby, or is it even something to better help her fake a pregnancy?