Game of Thrones rebounds with an episode rushed but interesting

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I like to think about each episode of Game of Thrones about the hidden themes, the ones the creators didn’t even necessarily put in intentionally. Sometimes that’s easier than other times. This week was all about people learning from mistakes or not learning from them, mimicking their parents or evolving. And all about them Queens.

This episode was unusual in that for the most part it followed a fairly straightforward scene structure, with each scene building on the last. Again, for the most part.

So let’s begin with Winterfell, the land of odd choices. First we see the show giving us “Sansa is good leader” with a short scene of her being a good leader. This part is decent enough, including a good burn on Littlefinger from Sansa. But his advice about considering all possible futures is interesting, because it seems like it’s something he doesn’t entirely follow himself. Which means it’s manipulation.

Then it’s another family reunion with the return of Bran, suddenly explicitly emotionless, and Meera, wordless much like another character I’ll get to later. Meera has gotten very short shrift in this show, that’s for sure. Bran’s creepy interactions with Sansa didn’t quite work because he spoke too stilted, instead of simply emotionless. It’s an odd character choice.

It’s also silly; Sansa asks for clarification on the Three Eyed Raven and Bran says it’s confusing. But really, it isn’t; here’s what he could’ve said: “The Three Eyed Raven is a position that’s inherited but not by an heir, but instead by one with the potential. In this case, it’s the potential to tap into a force that lets me see into the past, the present, and even the future. It’s overwhelming and often confusing. The one who taught me died and so I’m the new Three Eyed Raven.”

Instead he says “I need to speak to Jon” — presumably about his parents. Which he also could’ve said, I suppose. At least there’s a bit of that theme there: Sansa learning to be a good leader and Bran learning from his own predecessor to be the new creepy prophet. And Sansa staying a Queen in the North after Bran says he cannot inherit. Overall, a scene that didn’t really work.

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In Oldtown, we see Jorah completely cured by Samwell’s magic, because he read the book. The connections there to Jorah’s father, the contrast to Sam Tarly’s father, that’s all there. Sam felt Jeor Mormont was more a father figure than Randyll Tarly ever was; who is another “Sir Not Appearing in this Episode”. A nice little scene, if unusual because the grayscale cure seemed exceedingly easy. The show didn’t really play up the danger quite enough.

The other plotlines tie in a bit more. The forces of Grey Worm use Tyrion’s sewer trick to subvert Tyrion’s old humiliation from his father. We hear a bit of narration that doesn’t entirely work; it robs the scene of tension, which makes it all a bit emotionless and cold. Cersei completely “won” this episode, as her forces took Highgarden easily, and insultingly. I was legitimately surprised Olenna Tyrell said her house was bad at fighting. Beside being non-canonical, has she forgotten her grandson Loras, who was a great knight?

Far more effective was the revenge against Ellaria Sand and her daughter. It was cruel and awful, and yet, it’s the easiest part of the episode to slightly understand Cersei’s perspective. Revenge in kind for the cruel and needless murder of Myrcella. She also “won” by overriding Jaime’s better sense with sex, which apparently he cannot resist.

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So when he later tells Olenna he knows he might be destroyed by the relationship, it seems like no lie. He seems to have give up for now. But we’ll see. The beautiful reveal that Olenna indeed killed Joffrey was striking, and dark, and cold. The last episode ended with Theon’s dismay in the midst of fire, while this one ended with Jaime’s dismay in the midst of cold stone.

The concept of “justice” was played with throughout, like the painless way out given to Olenna versus the overtly awful revenge against Ellaria. Campy nut Euron Greyjoy, whose character seems like he belongs in a different show, wanted revenge against his own niece for “stealing” his ships. Who cares? Euron is a boring character, and a few amusing lines aren’t worth not giving Bronn any lines. Oh, don’t think I didn’t notice you sneaking him in there at the end show! I am not amused.

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Finally there’s the meeting of “reasonable” monarchs between Jon and Daenerys. This was slow in parts and rushed in others, but a few scenes felt particularly strong. Tyrion’s competitive brooding with Jon as he tried to get Jon to see Dany as something other than a conqueror. His convincing her that letting Jon mine dragonglass is worthwhile had that fun moment of her calling Tyrion on making up ancient wisdom.

And the final scene between Jon and Daenerys was quite evocative, with each one at odds still about who’s kneeling to whom, yet a bit more conciliatory than they were at the start. It’s satisfying, certainly.

But I feel like the show went out of its way to “even the playing field” between Dany and Cersei to the point where logic flew out the window. Casterly Rock was apparently emptied up its larders in hours, and Euron somehow got there in hours too to destroy the ships. I know logic isn’t really an important factor for the narrative of the show, but it’s frustrating when it remembers some things (like Tyrion and Jon’s backstory or the first Stark king to kneel to Aegon Targaryen) but not others.

So an episode that worked decently well, but I think it could’ve been better.

What did you think of this episode? Tell us in the comments below!


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