Monday, August 07, 2017

Recombinant Game Of Thrones

This season of Game Of Thrones, as the latest episode "The Spoils Of War" demonstrates, is a lot about seeing different combinations of characters from what we're used to.  The hour looks to be a lot of talking (some of it fun), but explodes into major action at the end.

We start in the aftermath of the battle of Highgarden. The victorious Lannister army is marching home.  Jaime stops the wagon full of gold to get Bronn a big bag's worth.  Ah Bronn, it's nice to have him back.

Jaime isn't happy, presumably because he found out how his son Joffrey died (and will have to tell his sister).  Bronn, by the way, wants a castle, like the Tyrell's had.  But nothing doing till the war is over.  Bronn first appeared out of nowhere to save Tyrion for money, so he's always been this way.  But first, the Iron Bank has to be paid off.

Jaime isn't just taking the gold, but all the food from the Reach.  The spoils of war.  Back at King's Landing, Cersei is talking with the Iron Bank rep about paying their debt (like a good Lannister).  Considering they've owed since the beginning of the series, this is a big moment.

But no sooner is the promise of payment than there's an understanding they'll need more backing to continue Cersei gaining control of Westeros.  Ain't that how it goes--no sooner have you paid off your debt than you've got something else to worry about.

At Winterfell, Littlefinger returns the dagger to Bran--the one meant to kill him.  It's been so long I forgot whose dagger it originally was, or did we ever know?  Anyway, from the way Bran reacts--otherworldly, as always, but accusatory--it seems to be Littlefinger who was behind the whole thing.  Always possible for the man who believes in chaos.  Littlefinger may see a lot, but he doesn't see all the things Bran does--Bran knows if you've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake.

Or actually, who cares, since Bran seems to be above human reactions, as he shows when he says goodbye without much feeling to Meera--one of many people who sacrificed everything for him.  And now she's going (to be with her family during the war to come) without a gold watch or even a hug.  (I like Meera.  I hope we see her again.)

Meanwhile, Arya finally returns to Winterfell.  The only character with a journey--personal and physical--as great as hers would be Dany.  Arya only knows, as far as I can recall, that Jon Snow is there, but is that so?  She seems to take it in stride when she discovers sister Sansa runs the place.

Arya doesn't have too much trouble getting past the dolts who guard the gate. (They're like characters out of Monty Python And The Hold Grail.  Arya herself has had trouble at gates before, though now she could kill to get through if she wants, but these guys aren't on the list.) Sansa goes to meet her in the crypt, where they have a nice reunion, though not as strong as might be expected--because it's too expected.  This has been a long time coming, but scenes that give you what you didn't quite expect are more powerful.  The two exchange useful information, though we know it, and a whole lot more.

Next they go to see Bran (who doesn't really consider himself Bran) so a lot of the OG stark kids are back together. (All three are outside with no protection.  They really need better security at Winterfell).  Bran gives Arya the Valyrian dagger since he doesn't need it (and oh yeah, Littlefinger is there--a lot of people you wouldn't expect are at Winterfell).  He also mentions visions he had of her--he even knows about her list.  Kinda creepy, whether or not it's your brother.

Brienne and Pod watch the three Stark kids in Winterfell.  She's quietly proud, and softening a bit.  Littlefinger also watches--he doesn't have a lot of lines this episode, but lots of sly looks.

At Dragonstone, Dany and Missy talk about Grey Worm (no word from the Unsullied yet), and before we can have too much girl talk, the Queen goes to meet Jon Snow.  He leads her (alone--once again, where are the guards?) on a tour of a cave where there's tons of dragonglass--looks like load-bearing dragonglass to me, I wouldn't let him touch it.  I hope they don't make googly eyes at each other--we don't need another Luke and Leia problem.

He also shows her cave drawings from the Children of the Forest--which also show them with humans, fighting White Walkers. Okay, we get it, Jon, this is your deal.  How do we know Snow didn't just draw them himself?  Dany promises to help him fight, if he'll bend the knee.  He still won't do it, though you have to start to wonder why?  Is it pride? His Crow training kicking in?

Back on the beach, Dany is met by Tyrion and Varys. We've got some good news and some bad news.  We've taken Casterly Rock--because it was abandoned and our enemies have taken all the food and gold the Tyrell's had.  Dany is getting fed up--time to call out the dragons.  Tyrion explains yet again you can't incinerate King's Landing (still a problem with many fans).  She asks Jon Snow and he agrees with the Imp--if she wants to lead the people, she can't do the same crap they've been seeing for centuries.

Back at Winterfell, Brienne is "training" Pod, mostly be kicking the crap out of him.  Arya watches.  This is the same woman who took out the Hound.  Those were the days.  Arya wants to train with her.  She and Brienne have a go, and Arya gets the best of her, managing to get her sword, Needle, and her new dagger, at Brienne's throat.  We can accept this due to Arya's training, but really, Brienne has so much more reach, it's still sort of hard to buy Arya can get in that close.  Meanwhile, Sansa and Littlefinger watch. More looks, no dialogue.  The two sisters were this way from the first episode, where Sansa showed she could sew, while Arya was good at bow and arrow.  (What Littlefinger thinks I can't say, though I doubt he's switching allegiance to a new Stark girl.)

At Dragonstone, Snow and Davos have a nice talk with Missandei.  Where's the Queen?  We'll find out soon enough.  (Davos knows Dragonstone the best, actually, though he's in an odd place, following a new king and importuning a new queen.)  They discuss bastards and marriage and their backgrounds.  Missy explain that Dany's followers are volunteers--the implication being that Snow should bend the knee, I suppose.  It's not like you're gonna get a better queen.

Now they see the surviving Greyjoy ship coming in.  They go down to meet it and there's Theon.  Not a happy homecoming--this is (so long ago you almost forget) the main who betrayed Robb, took Winterfell and was ready to kill Bran and Rickon.  Snow says, quite sensibly, he'd kill him if Theon hadn't saved Sansa.  Jon is always a good guy, but Theon almost never is.  Almost in passing, Jon mentions the Queen is gone.

And we move to the final scene, the one everyone is talking about.  The Lannister forces are near King's Landing on the Rose Road, the gold is in, and they need to get the stragglers moving.  Randall Tarly wants to flog them, though Jaime feels they can take it a bit easy since they just won a resounding battle.  Tarly's annoyed look is the best look of many this episode.

As Bronn and Jaime talk to Dickon about the battle, they hear something in the background.  It's the Dothraki on the warpath. Finally! These guys had to make a long sea voyage when they don't travel over water, then had to huddle for months on a beach waiting to do what they're born to do.

Jaime and the others get the troops lined up to prepare, but one thing they don't expect is Drogon, ridden by Dany.  Bronn mentioned earlier to Dickon men befoul themselves in battle. I'm guessing a lot of that was happening at this point.

They try to hold the line, but when a dragon blasts through it with fire, there's a pretty clear opening that the Dothraki can ride though.  (Though once Dany's men and the Lannister army get mixed together, Dany better watch where she aims Drogon..) Bronn wants Jaime to get to King's Landing, but he won't abandon his men.  (He was captured in battle early in the series, and spent a whole season imprisoned--that's not going to happen again.)

The fight is exciting not just because it's the first real big battle we've had with dragons, but because there are a bunch of major character who might just die.  Not Dany, who's got a lot left to do, I suppose.  And not Tyrion, who watches from a hilltop nearby (guess he had to come to make sure the Queen was okay).

But Bronn could certainly buy it--would make sense, since he seems to have served his purpose.  And Drogon could die, once they pull out Qyburn's scorpion (who knew they had it with them?), since Dany has two other dragons. And Jaime could die--we're in season seven, and really big deaths are possible.

The Dothraki seem to be routing the Lannister forces. (Jaime seems to fight okay, though hand-to-hand combat is no longer his specialty.)  But Bronn gets out the big gun and hits Drogon, who lands.  The big guy is wounded, and Dany gets off to pull out the huge bolt.

Jaime sees her (and Tyrion sees Jaime going for Dany) and races at her with a spear.  At the last second, Drogon sees him, turns his head and spews fire.  At the some time, someone (I assume it's Bronn--whose lost his bag of gold, by the way--the spoils of war being spoiled), pulls him off his horse and into the water, where both sink.

Is Jaime, with his heavy armor, down for the count?  Is Bronn any better off?  Will Dany be able to fly away?  Tune in next week for another exciting instalment.

Actually, there are only three more episodes to go this season.  The battle of the queens, if nothing else, seems to be coming to a head.  And how far behind will the Night King be?  For that matter, when is Bran finally going to tell Jon who his real parents are?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Bran exists to determine definitively the parentage of the key players.

4:09 AM, August 08, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Bran presumably has big things ahead of him, but the only thing we know he absolutely must do is let Jon Snow know his true parents.

10:59 AM, August 08, 2017  
Blogger New England Guy said...

I would argue that we currently only definitively know that Lyanna (I think) Stark in Jon's mother (and that Ned is his uncle definitely not his father). It is implied strongly that a Targaryen prince (Rhaegar I think) is his father (As his Kingsguard was guarding the delivering mother) but they have left room for another option too. I may be misremembering what Bran saw in his vision- was there more?

11:29 AM, August 08, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I don't recall much room for debate from Bran's vision. I thought the scene pretty clearly showed that Rhaegar was Jon's father, unless you want to say Lyanna was lying to her brother, Ned Stark. And everything else we know about Lyanna and Rheagar and Ned only reinforces this impression.

12:03 PM, August 08, 2017  
Blogger New England Guy said...

Did she tell him that? I can't remember the scene well enough. We know Robert loved Lyanna and that Jon is "black of hair" which Ned focused on in in his studies in season 1 when he was sorting out Baratheon and Lannister children.

This is why it is good we will have the supermagical Bran to lay down the law and sort it out.

Cersei and Jaime may be Targaryens for all we know- it is implied the Mad King had a crush on Tywin's wife in the History of Westeros tie-in book

10:53 AM, August 09, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

As you probably know, a more common theory is Tyrion is a Targaryen. I realize the bloodlines are all mixed up, but Tyrion as a Targaryen would be pretty cheap.

12:42 PM, August 09, 2017  

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