This week on Game of Thrones we saw the return of the enigmatic Red Woman and Arya’s long-lost direwolf Nymeria. We witnessed some awful medieval surgery (with hilariously disgusting jump cut), enjoyed some sexy moments, and learned to respect and fear our new barbaric pirate villain.
Last episode ended with Daenerys in her war room on Dragonstone. This time we get to listen in on her plans. She’s already called together the leaders of Dorne and Highgarden, Ellaria and Olenna respectively, as well as the Greyjoy defectors Yara and Theon, to join her own group of advisers of Tyrion, Missendei, Grey Worm, and Varys.
That’s five women, three eunuchs, and a Tyrion. Not exactly your typical war room for Game of Thrones (or anything) and that’s part of the reason we love and root for Team Targaryen.
Dany and Tyrion’s plans are clever. They don’t want to march into King’s Landing with an army of Unsullied and Dothraki. They’ll be seen as little more than foreign invaders. Instead they plan on using Highgarden and Dorne’s armies (and their mutual animosity of the Lannisters) to siege King’s Landing.
Dany’s armies from Essos, meanwhile, will hit the Lannisters where it hurts, their homeland at Casterly Rock.
It’s a solid plan but Team Targaryen could always use more allies. When Melisandre shows up for the first time since resurrecting Jon Snow last season, Dany decides to summon the King of the North to come visit and bend the knee.
On one hand – hurrah, it’s the meetup we’ve been waiting seven years for! On the other hand, there’s no way these two hard-headed heroes are going to agree to work together, at least right away.
While Daenerys is focused on conquest, Jon is rightfully focused on defending the North against the tide of White Walkers headed their way. They need more people and more dragonglass. Dragonglass can be made into obsidian weapons that are capable of destroying the white walkers in a single blow.
Sam learned last episode that Dragonstone sits on a huge untapped mine of dragonglass. Armed with that knowledge and an official summons, Jon agrees to meet with Daenerys, much to the chargrin of every noble in the North.
They have a point. If the show has taught us anything being summoned to join a king or queen typically ends in disaster.
Jon is very much Ned Stark’s son, and agrees to the journey to hopefully secure an ally and obtain the dragonglass. Despite their further political bickering, he leaves Sansa in charge of Winterfell. Hopefully this leads to some actual agency and things to do as she’s been sidelined with Jon around.
Sam remains an important POV at the Citadel (which I incorrectly thought was in Essos, it’s actually in the SW corner of Westeros). After the dragonglass discovery he’s found Ser Jorah Mormont, slowly dying of greyscale. Once Sam realizes that Jorah is the son of his late commander, he barely hesitates in finding a risky, experimental healing method that could very well infect him as well.
It’s a pretty gross procedure that reminds us that no matter how cool medieval life can seem, the medical options were not super great. Clearly Jorah still has an important role to play but he’s a long way away from anyone.
Arya is also pretty far from anyone. She manages to stumble into Hot Pie, whom we hadn’t seen since Season 4. It’s a fun little reunion (remember when Arya passed herself off as a boy?) but more importantly leads to Arya getting an update to current events. Namely that Jon Snow is back in Winterfell. Arya digests this information along with the pie and turns her horse northward.
More Stark reunions, yay! Except Jon just left for Dragonstone. Will they meet each other on the road? Characters tend to fast travel this late in the series and judging by the Next Time On promo, Jon will already make it all the way to Dragonstone next episode.
Oh, and Arya also saw Nymeria, her old direwolf, in a less fun reunion. In the books Arya had frequent wolf-dreams in which she “warg’d” into Nymeria and commanded a wolf pack and hunted Frey men. The show hadn’t done any of that so either this was their minimal nod or perhaps Nymeria will show up again to save Arya.
The marquee scene of the episode followed Ellaria and Yara as they made their way back to Dorne to rally their army for the coming siege. Unfortunately they have to sail past King’s Landing, and Euron shows up to interrupt what could have been a sexy scene between the two women.
I was surprised we got a major battle this early on. It was annoyingly dark and hard to tell what was happening. Apparently Euron’s ships can shoot fireballs?
Euron himself may be a goofy mustache-twirling villain but at least he’s on the ground floor in an assault. He’s a classic pirate-barbarian, screaming into battle and cleaving fools with his axe.
Two of the Sand Snakes jump into action but they do little against Euron’s plot armor, and he cuts them down. I’ll be annoyed if Euron isn’t at least limping (let alone dying of poison) after the battle.
Euron’s troops easily capture Ellaria and Tyene, the one Sand Snake who is Ellaria’s daughter – a fact that will become painfully relevant next episode.
Euron himself captures Yara. He goads Theon into trying to rescue her, but Theon does what Theon does, and jumps into the water.
Theon is a frustrating coward but we were lead to believe he was on his way to redemption, particularly after he helped Sansa escape from Ramsay in Winterfell.
His actions here felt like a major step backward, even if it does fit his character. Nobody’s really rooting for Theon to be a hero but clearly he still has some importance, if only to report to Dany about the loss.
The night raid demolished their envoy. With the Dorne and Greyjoy leaders subdued and presumably headed to King’s Landing, that puts a major halt on Team Targaryen. Dorne probably won’t mobilize at this point, but I’m sure Cersei will find a way to fuck things up. I also anticipate that the upcoming revenge torture will drive a permanent wedge between her and Jamie.
Varys: My favorite scene from the episode was the verbal joust between Varys and Daenerys, two characters who have never actually spoken to each other. Both had solid points and great lines to deliver. I’m giving the match point to Varys for standing his ground against his Queen.
Hot Pie: A major theme and literal saying in the show is that you win or you die in the Game of Thrones. Hot Pie never technically played but he still defied that decree, living out a good life cooking for people at an inn. Now could we please get a check-in for poor Gendry? His arms have to be tired after rowing a boat since season 3.
The Sand Snakes: The entire Dorne story line was ill-conceived and poorly executed. I guess it’s fitting that we saw it come crashing down during Euron’s night raid. Only Tyene and momma Ellaria survived, and it doesn’t take a hardcore GoT fan to know their fate may be far worse than the ones Euron killed.
Petyr Baelish: Two weeks in a row, way to go Baelish! Maybe don’t mention how creepy you are with Sansa around Jon? What are you up to?