We eat your words

Game of Thrones: Season 7 – Episode 3 REVIEW

Shippers might have fainted over the most recent episode of Game of Thrones.

Like last week, we begin with the image of some waves, although thankfully in daylight this time – Jon’s arrived on Dragonstone. Instead of going straight to him and Daenerys meeting, the show teases us a little, beginning with his reunion with Tyrion and some mutual reflection on how far they’ve come.

Then the reception gets a bit frostier, with Missandei ordering his party to hand over their weapons, and then the dragons treating them to a quick fly-by, which comes off as just as deliberate a reminder of who’s queen around here. In case that didn’t do the trick, when he gets to the throne room, Missandei belts out Daenerys’s long list of honorifics, while Davos awkwardly replies with ‘w-well, he’s king in the North, I guess’ (I’m paraphrasing, but not by much).

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Varys, clearly missing his important conversations with Littlefinger, joins Melisandre on a nearby clifftop to discuss things. Her motives were apparently to bring ice and fire together, like in the title of a popular book series. She unsubtly alludes to burning her bridges in the North, by which I mean burning Shireen. Varys gently suggests she get the hell out of the country. Melisandre responds, to a swell of eerie and mystical-sounding background music, that they’ll both die in Westeros. And it’s come to something when spoilers for a TV series are that pervasive, that characters in the series are dropping them.

When Jon and Daenerys actually start to talk, it’s not as rosy as people might have hoped – they don’t immediately kiss, for instance – because his being king in the North is a bit of a sticking point. Really, though, this is an extension over the confusion over their place in the narrative structure – for some very good reasons, they both think they’re the protagonist. Daenerys has dragons, Jon has a plucky underdog vibe. Daenerys wants to dethrone the wicked queen, Jon wants to beat the horrible monsters. And, of course, both of them are returning scions of the romanticised old dynasty. Neither are willing to back down an inch, leaving Tyrion (an obvious protagonist candidate himself) floundering in the middle trying to get them to play nice.

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Game of Thrones season 7
Source: HBO

There’s also the perennial problem of people doubting the white walkers even exist. Which is a bit rich to say with dragons flapping about outside. Similarly, Jon and Davos are still inexplicably reluctant to mention how Jon came back from the dead, with Davos accidentally starting to say it before catching himself. Even if they’re worried about stealing Daenerys’s thunder, nobody’s going to side against a literal Christ figure, at least not without a sort of ‘are we the baddies?’ moment.

Jon tactfully calls everyone else children squabbling over a game, a sort of game of thrones, you might call it. Daenerys, now enraged, launches into a grandiose motive rant and advances on Jon – but whether this is to fight or fuck, we never find out, since Varys chooses then to pop in and mention their fleet was almost completely wiped out in a manner reminiscent of Bush the younger hearing that 9/11 happened.

Later, Tyrion goes off to a cliffside to brood, and finds that Jon has beaten him to it. There’s a fun conversation showing that even in-universe they know Jon Snow’s the king of brooding, with Tyrion saying as much while Jon poses like he’s on the cover of an album with lots of acoustic guitar and dry spoken-word. Jon finally thinks to mention he’s after some dragonglass, Tyrion takes the proposal to Daenerys, and she gives the go-ahead and it’s all fine.

Theon is fished out of the sea by the ironborn – luckily for him, the ironborn who are on his side – in the most undignified way possible. He claims he tried to save Yara. The ironborn see through this and sneer at him for being a coward, though they simply can’t match the kind of memes we’ve seen about him being a coward over the past week.

Over in King’s Landing, Euron parades his prisoners before a jubilant crowd. You’d think beating three women in battle wouldn’t be much cause for celebration in an intensely sexist society, but you’d be wrong – then again, with Cersei on the throne, maybe the feudal order found room for a little bit of progressive gender politics, in exactly the way Britain didn’t under Mary I and Elizabeth I. Speaking of progressive gender politics, Euron finds all this attention so wonderful it damn near gives him a boner.

Cersei tortures Ellaria
Source: HBO

In the throne room, he presents Ellaria and Tyene to Cersei to further applause, then asks Jaime how Cersei likes it in bed in a loud stage whisper. Cersei takes Ellaria and Tyene down to the dungeons, and poisons Tyene with a kiss, so as to make Ellaria watch her daughter die. This bit goes on far longer than it needs to, and is clearly intended to depict Cersei as completely evil, when at worst it’s just furthering the cycle of eye-for-an-eye revenge. If the writers are expecting to elicit sympathy for Ellaria and Tyene, they should have thought of that before having them murder a little girl and usurping rule of Dorne.

Just as the attention got Euron horned up, the revenge-torture session now does the same for Cersei – which, to be fair, is quite villainous – and she goes to find Jaime. Come the morning, she is quite casual about the servants seeing they have obviously slept together. Jaime is worried by people knowing, even though Euron whisper-shouted about it in front of the entire court.

Cersei meets with Mark Gatiss’s iron banker, and she has the audacity to trot out the line about Lannisters always paying their debts when they haven’t been doing so for a while now. She also claims blowing up the Sept of Baelor was a tragic accident, even though everyone seems to know it was her and Gatiss clearly doesn’t buy it for a second. Gatiss makes an offhand reference to the iron bank investing in the slave trade, when canonically Braavos was founded by escaped slaves and went to war with Pentos to force them to outlaw slavery. I may have been wrong about people having moments of ‘are we the baddies?’ self-awareness.

Up in Winterfell, Sansa is keeping things ticking along very well, but then starts listening to Littlefinger again. He has a bit of a ramble about imaging everything that could possibly happen and thus never being surprised, and honestly, he sounds dangerously high. Then Bran shows up, and…well, one of the most heartwarming moments from last series was Jon and Sansa being reunited. Everyone’s looking forward to the remaining Starklings meeting back up. So Bran’s part here, where he shows as much emotion as the sledge they’re dragging him on, is a bit of a slap in the face.

You could argue that this is the downside of his status as the three-eyed raven, a horrible side effect of his tree-based visions, but then he makes it creepy for no particular reason, by describing how he watched Sansa marrying Ramsay via Winterfell’s heart tree, rather than illustrating his powers by telling her literally anything else. How Jon is a Targaryen, for instance.

Sana LittleFinger

In the Citadel, Jorah’s skin condition has cleared up. He leaves to go back to Daenerys, because he really has nothing else and can’t take no for an answer. Professor Slughorn puts two and two together, and gets ‘Sam performed the dangerous surgery he was specifically told not to’. However, since it worked, he can’t be too angry and just gives Sam lines (well, copying old scrolls) instead of expelling him from Hogwarts. Next week Sam teams up with Gilly and Ed Sheeran to stop Euron from stealing the philosopher’s stone.

Finally, we get a bit of action – the unsullied have reached Casterly Rock. Initially, we see them trying to storm the walls and dropping like flies, but then we cut away to Tyrion explaining the structure of Casterly Rock, how once upon a time he was in charge of the sewers, and that he included a secret passage so he could bring in ladies of the evening. So they get in that way, and take the Rock quite smoothly, only to find that most of the Lannister army is missing, and then Euron comes out of nowhere to pounce on their ships.

As it turns out, the bulk of the Lannister army have met up with Jaime and the Tarlys, and taken Highgarden with similar ease. They loot the place, which is presumably how they’ll pay back the iron bank, while Olenna watches from the balcony with dismay. Jaime has a short walking-along montage to go up and see her. She continues to dump on the Tyrell rose, and tells Jaime the very obvious fact that Cersei’s incredibly bad for him. Which is something he seems oddly blind to, given that he killed a king to stop King’s Landing being blown up with wildfire, then when Cersei blew up the sept he basically rolled with it.

To Olenna’s surprise, he’s vetoed Cersei’s suggestion of skinning her alive, and offers her a merciful death with a painless poison. Such is the way of the world – the common folk get beaten, cut, and stuck with spears, while the nobility even make their death in disgrace comfortable. Naturally, she takes it, and then takes the opportunity to give Jaime one last middle finger by revealing it was her who killed Joffrey and telling him to make sure Cersei knows.

Source: HBO

This final sequence is a bit of a disappointment, mainly because of how Casterly Rock and Highgarden are depicted. We’ve never seen either before and what we’ve got can only be a bit of a letdown. Canonically, Casterly Rock is, as the name suggests, a rock, a mile-high fortress carved out of a mountain, not a small castle on a hill. As for Highgarden, blink and you’ll miss it – initially, also being a small castle on a hill, I thought it was another shot of Casterly Rock from a different angle.

The final insult is that neither castle showed up in the opening credits, whose whole thing is showing miniature versions of that episode’s locations. The Lannisters also seem pretty blasé about losing their home, especially given the massive loss of face Robb suffered when Theon took Winterfell in series 2.

Predictions for next week
– Highgarden is never mentioned again.
– Theon continues to not catch a break.
– With no ride home, Grey Worm and the unsullied run into difficulties on the hoof.
– Jon sticks around Dragonstone and gets to know Daenerys better, b-but not because he likes her or anything.
– Jorah turns up on Dragonstone, and is shocked, shocked, that Daenerys still won’t sleep with him.
– Bran and Littlefinger – given their powers of being creepy – start to really get on.

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