Monday, July 31, 2017

Rearranging The Chess Board

Some decent action and some decent talk in "The Queen's Justice"--episode three of this season's Game Of Thrones. It was maybe the weakest episode so far, but still pretty good. In any, case with only seven episodes in season seven (and six in season eight), things move fast.

We start at Dragonstone and, without ceremony, Jon Snow and Davos come ashore.  (I didn't expect them to have a big fleet--this is for a face-to-face meeting and Snow needs his forces to stick around the North, but still, wouldn't it have been easy for them to be picked off?  Especially seeing as how Dragonstone is just up the river from King's Landing.)

They're met by Tyrion (who finally gets some real lines this hour), Missandei and some Dothraki, who do look out of place in Westeros.  Snow and the Imp have a nice reunion, and everyone introduces themselves.  Snow and his small band also hand over their weapons.  Why not--it's not like they could fight their way out at this point.  They've committed themselves.

Davos is back in Dragonstone, by the way, but no one's going to talk about his past.  Tyrion promises he didn't touch Sansa, but Snow wasn't even going to ask.  And the newbies see the dragons--an impressive sight for anyone.

Meanwhile, over on a bluff, Varys and Melisandre talk.  Many wondered what would happen when Seaworth and the Red Lady met, but Mel knows she can't let that happen.  She knows she want too far to make it up to them.  So she's going to Volantis, though she says she'll be back to die in Westeros. And that Varys will die there, too.  A vision perhaps, but her visions have been wrong before (though this one sounds eerily correct).

We get to the throne room to have the first meeting of perhaps the two most significant players in this saga.  Snow and Dany don't really know each other well, so what will happen--above all, will he bend the knee.

Snow doesn't plan to.  Dany talks about the past--the Starks swore fealty to the Targaryens, though perhaps that ended when the Mad King started killing Starks.  Dany is sorry for her dad, even apologizes, but wants recognition of her queenship, and a new ally.  Otherwise, who is he to say he's King of the North?

Snow would rather talk about other things.  He doesn't care about these wars down south--it's the war up north against the dead that matters. (And we're once again reminded that Dany won't use her dragons to incinerate King's Landing, though that would lead to a quick victory.)

Snow is right, of course, but who believes him? No one's seen the dead down South, and they've got their own worries. (No one's seen dragons in a while, either.) Dany brings up King Robert trying to kill her, along with many others, but she kept chugging along, because she always believed she'd sit on the Iron Throne.  A stirring speech, but Snow still insists the Night King comes first.

Davos sticks up for Snow, almost letting it slip he came back to life at one point, but that's a no-no--if they don't believe in wights, how will they believe that?  (You know, here's one place it might be helpful to have Mel back to explain things, but I think she's gone for the rest of this season.)

So Snow won't bend the knee.  He doesn't care what happens in the South, and doesn't even know who this Dany character is.  His job is in the North, saving everyone. At this point Varys comes in with the news about Euron destroying Yara's fleet and taking Ellaria Sand--so much for those allies.  Snow is not a prisoner, but he can't leave.

We cut to Theon being picked up by a ship.  They know he must have run away.  Poor Theon.  We can tell fate has something in store for him, though.  To be continued.

Meanwhile, at King's Landing, Euron is enjoying his triumph, parading Ellaria, Tyrene and Yara through the streets and then into the throne room. He promised Cersei a gift, and here it is--the people who killed Myrcella. (Yara he gets to keep.) Euron might even get Cersei if he can win the war.  He also proves what a creep he is, speaking to Jaime about his sister in untoward ways.

Next we see Elleria and daughter Tyrene chained up in the dungeon.  How to punish them?  Cersei kisses Tyrene with poison--that's how they killed Myrcella (I think, though I can barely remember).  Now mom will watch as she dies painfully.  This is the queen's justice--at least on particular queen.  It's an ugly scene, and, while dramatically necessary, I suppose, I could have done without it.  The Sand Snakes (the Nikki and Paulo of this show) were never worth much, but they don't deserve this.

Now Jaime and Cersei have a love scene.  I was hoping he might give the women in the dungeon a merciful death, but that's not going to happen.  Cersei is getting brazen, not caring if a servant sees them sleeping together. (Jaime cared enough to almost kill Bran and start the whole show.)

She's got a meeting with the representatives of the Iron Bank.  For such allegedly smart investors, they seem pretty hapless.  All that money they bet on Stannis, down the drain.  They've lost a lot of money in Slaver's Bay, thanks to Dany freeing everyone.  And even if they demand gold back from Cersei, how can they force her to do it?  Anyway, she promises she'll pay the debt within a fortnight (though in the past it seemed like she didn't care).  I guess she's got a plan.

On the bluffs, Snow and Tyrion brood.  Things aren't going great for either.  Snow is a simple-spoken man, the opposite of Tyrion, but they seem to get along.  They talk about the White Walkers, and now it seems Tyrion believes--too many good men have seen them.  Tyrion says Dany's a pretty good gal, though, and maybe it's time to be reasonable with her--she can't go and fight a war up North, so ask for something that can be done.

Which leads to Tyrion telling Dany that Snow wants the dragonglass they've got.  It's nothing to her, and if she gives him something, perhaps he'll give her something. (Dany also notes that weird line about taking a knife in the heart, but Tyrion dismisses it.  I guess we'll learn about it later.) Dany goes to Snow and tells him to take the damn glass.  I'm a bit surprised she gives it up with getting a promise for something in return.  I guess that'll come next.  (I was also waiting for her to say "You know nothing, Jon Snow," but I guess that line's retired.)

Up in Winterfell, Sansa is leading.  She takes to it naturally.  Littlefinger has a talk with her.  Prepare for everything.  Everyone is your friend, everyone is your enemy--fight every battle in the North and South in your mind--everything is happening all at once--so no matter what happens, you'll be ready.  It's how he's always done things, and she seems taken with it.

Then at the gate...Bran.  Almost forgot about him.  Thought he still at Castle Black.  A tearful reunion, though I was surprised Sansa could recognize him. In Greek drama, when you have these sorts of scenes (say Orestes and Electra), there's usually some sort of recognition scene where they check out old scars, or stuff like that.

He says he can't be in charge at Winterfell because he's the Three-Eyed Raven.  He tries to explain what it means--seeing everything at once.  Hey, wasn't that just what Littlefinger said Sansa should do?  He also mentions (as I was hoping he would) he'd like to speak to Jon Snow.  So he isn't going to tell Sansa, and certainly didn't spill the beans at Castle Black.  Actually, it's pretty good gossip--shouldn't Sansa know?

At the Citadel, a suspicious Ebrose looks at the completely cured Mormont.  Ser Jorah claims it was spontaneous, but I don't think Samwell believes anyone would buy that.  Jorah is now free to go, and tells Samwell he'll leave to seek Dany--guess word still hasn't reached the Citadel that she's at Dragonstone, though you think that would be the top news around.  Anyway, we'll get some sort of reunion, I assume.  And Jorah even thinks he may meet Sam again. Okay.

They shake hands, and Jorah puts his left hand on top.  Really?  Did Samwell say that's okay?

In Ebrose's study, he knows Samwell broke the rules and treated Mormont.  He's impressed enough that it worked that he'll let Sam stay--but he's still gonna have to do all the scut work.  Actually, I don't know why Sam would stick around at this point. He's gotten everything out of the institution that he could. (Like Arya in Braavos--we don't see her in this episode, by the way.  I guess her reunion at Winterfell comes next, and it better be bigger than the somewhat muted moment with Bran, who seems too otherworldly.)

At the strategy room in Dragonstone, Dany wants to destroy Euron's fleet.  With dragons.  Finally, a good use for them. But she can't leave, too great a risk.  As for the Unsullied, they're now attacking Casterly Rock, even though the enemy now knows it's going to happen.

Tyrion explains the attack, and how hard it will be.  While he explains, we see what he's saying, though the first, direct attack, is a fake-out.  Tyrion was put in charge of the sewers by Tywin, so a few Unsullied will sneak in and open the front door. (Didn't they do this in Slaver's Bay already?)

Sure enough, the strategy works, though Grey Worm--unsullied and unharmed--doesn't understand why so few Lannister soldiers are there (even as Euron sets fire to his fleet).  Actually, I was surprised Tyrion thought there'd be so many.  Cersei has King's Landing, and that's where she wants to remain.  She was horrified at the thought of returning home, so why bother to defend it when you need your soldiers elsewhere?

I thought these soldiers might be moving to King's Landing, or even Dragonstone (though that would probably mean incineration even before hitting the Dothraki), but instead the troops, led by Jaime, move against Highgarden. A skeleton force in Casterly Rock was a trick he learned from Robb Stark.

Jaime and his gang take out the Tyrell stronghold pretty easily--fighting is not the Tyrell specialty.  He meets Olenna in her castle.  Cersei wanted her tortured, but Jaime talked her down to a simply, painless poison. Olenna takes it immediately (who's got her in the death pool?), but before perishing gets her little revenge, telling Jaime she killed--or had killed--Joffrey, and please let Cersei know.  A nice moment, and we're done. (A bit like Walter White letting Jesse know about Jane's death, though that was a bigger deal, Breaking Bad had less characters and less secrets.)

For someone who played her hand badly in the past, Cersei has turned into a brilliant tactician.  Dany looked so powerful it almost seemed she didn't even need her army or dragons. But now her three allies are all but vanquished, another ally she was counting on hasn't come across yet, and the Unsullied seem stranded.  But I'd watch out--when you back someone with dragons into a corner, there's likely to be trouble. (Though Cersei also seems confident Qyburn can deal with that.)

So the fight for King's Landing continues, everywhere but in King's Landing, and the fear of the Night King is hanging over it all. The circles are closing, and options getting fewer.  They better, since after next week, we'll be more than halfway done with the season.


Blogger New England Guy said...

Just saw the episode (Hey I just got back from Ireland- those landscapes look familiarish though we went to the place where Star Wars was filmed).

Cersei's strength is also her weakness. Her hubris enabled her to get through her shame (Shame!) but it looks like it and the wine will be her undoing again. Funny again how incestuous occasional rapist, kingslayer and attempted child-murderer Jaime is getting to be the conscience of the show. Bran is apparently going to communicate in zen-like koans from hereon out which is unfortunate. Varys has dumped the obsequiousness and seems all-in with attitude this season. We got to see Bronn for an instant but no Brienne this episode. Jorah, Theon, along with Brienne and Bronn will no doubt have special tasks to perform in these last ten episodes as must be getting these reminders of them for a reason. When will the Hound encounter Arya I wonder?

Good to see that some of flights from the later books have been deliberately done away with ( I think) Poor George RR- his slowness has probably diminished the returns on the future books with the alternate plot line will probably be halved or more (though don't worry- he'll still sell plenty)

8:01 AM, August 02, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Bronn and Brienne--never thought of them together. Sounds like the masculine and feminine version of the same name. Then there's Bran, which gives you the full declension. (Or is the version of the name that keeps you regular.)

It'd be great to see the Hound and Arya together again, but the main question is when will the Hound fight the Mountain in Clegane Bowl.

From my understanding of the books, they've got twice as many characters as the show, and a still-expanding storyline. The main question is will the next book be out before the final season ends. A related question is will Martin live to finish the series.

9:48 AM, August 02, 2017  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

The question whether an author is alive is no longer important to a continuing series. It'll be "George Martin's GOT", written by an Applebee's app.

4:37 PM, August 03, 2017  

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