Between Jon Snow’s first encounter with Daenerys Targaryen, Lady Olenna’s confession to Jaime Lannister, Sansa Stark’s awkward reunion with Bran and Cersei Lannister’s delivery of poetic justice, the third installment of Game of Thrones Season 7 finally delivered on the intensity fans have been waiting for since the summer premiere.
When fire meets ice. Since learning that the Breaker of Chains and the bastard of Winterfell share the blood of the dragon, no fan should have expected their long-awaited first encounter to be amicable. Although Jon didn’t bend the knee, he did acknowledge that Daenerys is better for the realm than Cersei; is not her father’s daughter; and is, most importantly, not his enemy. Baby steps. Mining and forging dragonglass can’t possibly be a quick ordeal, so he’s not likely to be going anywhere soon. What I don’t understand is why Varys hasn’t told Dany that Ned Stark nearly lost his head in his attempt to stop her assassination; or why Jon didn’t mention the dragonglass outright to avoid some confrontation; or why Dany can’t negotiate without bruising people’s knees on the first date.
Daenerys may have foreshadowed the death of her own dragon(s). It’s possible that telling Jon that she named her two smaller dragons after her two brothers, who are “both gone now,” was Dany’s way of offering Jon her condolences for his own lost brothers, but I don’t write off any dialogue as irrelevant anymore. Especially since learning that the finest artillators and blacksmiths of King’s Landing have been slaving day and night to create a weapon deadly enough to defeat a dragon. Acknowledging her dragons a second time, Dany suggests bringing her dragons to Euron in place of an army and questions what anyone could possibly do to her dragons. Foreshadow is a tricky business, but Viserion or Rhaegal could very well be toast (pun intended).
A farewell to the Queen of Thorns, the ultimate MVP. Lady Olenna, who married into House Tyrell, was always a little embarrassed by it. In her eyes, the Tyrell words (“Growing Strong”), its sigil (a golden rose) and even its army were pitiful in comparison to the other Great Houses of Westeros. Knowing her own army isn’t battle renowned, Olenna recognizes the end the minute she sees the Lannister army with her most powerful bannermen in tow. As usual, however, she gets the last word in rather than accepting total defeat. Still, I had to feel a little bad for Jaime. He successfully executed Robb Stark’s battle strategy—uncharacteristically killing as few innocents as possible—and even took mercy on Olenna by killing her quietly and painlessly despite his sister’s wishes, only to learn that the Tyrells savagely murdered his firstborn son and pinned it on his brother. The irony is impeccable.
Cersei gets off on torturing enemies. Olenna warns Jaime that Cersei is a monster and a disease, but apart from confessing her part in Joffrey’s murder, she didn’t tell Jaime anything he doesn’t already know. Did anyone else notice Cersei’s handmaiden’s new pixie haircut and pitch-black wardrobe? The disease is spreading and even Jaime is powerless to stop it—as he proved in his pathetic attempt to resist her seduction. They’ve barely touched each other since Myrcella’s murder and only avenging it turned Cersei on. She and Euron, another sadistic madman from the sound of it, are a match made in hell.
The twins could die together, as they were born together. The common theory is that Jaime will be the one to take out Cersei for the good of the realm, the same way he took out the Mad King—but that’s not to say that Jaime will live. Olenna said Cersei would be the end of Jaime and that it’s beyond is control, and I can’t see any reason not to believe her. Jaime told Bronn that if he's going to die, he wants it to be in the arms of the woman he loves. In the end, Jaime might willingly lose his own life in the process of killing his sister because the truth is neither of them wants to live without the other.
Lannisters always pay their debts. The Iron Bank was tempted to side with Daenerys—as anyone would when the options are an unpredictable madwoman drowning in debt with no true claim to the throne versus a trueborn Targaryen with three dragons and the love of the people—but Cersei already made good on her promise to pay her debt within a fortnight. In taking Highgarden, the Lannisters also confiscated all of its gold and will use it to repay the debts the crown has racked up over the years. Once the Iron Bank has the Tryells’ gold in hand, they’ll side with the Lannisters and there is no limit to the funds and resources they can supply.
Maybe black wings don’t always carry black words. Raven scrolls were subtly mentioned twice in this episode: once at Winterfell, where Maester Wolkan told Sansa that Maester Luwin kept copies of every raven scroll and that they might contain useful information on winters of the past; and a second time at the Citadel, where the Archmaester tasked Sam Tarly with making copies of rotting manuscripts and scrolls. Sam and Sansa might soon learn even more than they could have expected.
More secrets could be unveiled in Volantis. Although Melisandre did not reveal why she is heading to Volantis, she did imply that she had a purpose there and would return one last time to Westeros. For reference, Volantis is the most heavily populated Valyrian colony and as Targaryens, both Daenerys and Jon share the blood of Old Valyria. If anyone is going to discover useful information about dragons, Volantis is a good place to start. It’s also possible that Mel could be on a mission to free the slaves of Volantis in Dany’s name and recruit them for her cause. Lady Talisa, Robb Stark’s Volantene queen, told us that she left Volantis because she vowed never to live in a “slave city” again. It’s unclear exactly what Mel is looking for, but Volantis is one of the few slave cities in Essos that Dany has yet to liberate.
Melisandre and Lord Varys are slated to die in Westeros. Once again, a red priestess hinted at knowing what Varys heard or saw in the flames the day he was cut. Varys rarely lets on much, but he seemed more scared that Melisandre knew he would die in Westeros than surprised at the prediction of this fate. We know he heard or saw something in the flames that made him skeptical of magic, but did the Lord of Light give him a mission the same way he does for Mel? Or did he prophesize Varys’ death? Dany did threaten to burn him alive at the first sign of betrayal. As for Melisandre, her visions thus far have been unreliable, but she remains as confident as ever about her role in the war. Apparently, if Mel is to be believed, both of these foreigners are meant to die in Westeros and now it's just matter of when and how.
Ironborn ships escape with Theon on board. Forgetting the fact that the Iron Islands belong to Euron and that the escaped Ironborn have nothing else to lose, the men who survived are the same who chose Yara to lead them and fled with her even after Euron lawfully won the crown. Yara is one of the few leaders who has the love and respect of her people. If her men were willing to die to help her rescue Theon from Ramsay in Season 4, they’ll do whatever it takes to do the same and more for Yara—with or without Theon.
An anticlimactic Stark reunion. Bran officially knows too much and has too much still to learn to concentrate on one line of thought. Fans were concerned that his return to Winterfell was underwhelming and unemotional, but really what could we expect? The poor kid is barely a teenager and had been tasked with saving the world. What we should focus on is why Sansa was so freaked out about the extent of Bran’s knowledge of her wedding night. It would be unsettling to any sane person that he can even see it at all, which would be the simplest explanation. Unless there is something she’s still not telling us about Ramsay. Last season, she told Littlefinger that she could still feel the things that Ramsay did inside her body and Ramsay, minutes before his death, told Sansa he would “always be a part of her.” I don’t think the timeline makes sense, but would it be so outlandish to wonder if she might be pregnant? In any case, Bran would be wise to keep what he knows to himself while Jon is away.
Subtle Sansa side notes: I made a comment earlier about the change in Cersei’s handmaiden’s hairstyle, but I failed to mention the change in Sansa’s. She said in an earlier episode that she learned a great deal from Cersei and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that she’s been wearing her hair the same way Cersei wore hers in earlier seasons. After all, she once changed her hairstyle to resemble Margaery’s as well. Unrelated but also crucial: Tyrion answered the lingering fan question of whether he and Sansa are still married by acknowledging the fact that the marriage was a sham and more importantly unconsummated.
Tyrion needs Jorah’s help. Thus far, Tyrion’s seemingly brilliant war strategies have failed because he’s up against two military men who have more experience in the field and at sea. Dany told Jon that Tyrion talks so much because that’s what he’s good at—she needs his counsel, not his military leadership. Ser Jorah, on the other hand, could be useful on that front. If Jorah returns, he and Tyrion might not be thrilled to be working together, but Dany needs both of them.
With only four episodes left in Season 7, it’s sad but probably true that the characters we love (and hate) will continue to drop like flies. Seriously, though, where is Gendry? If they’re going to kill off Olenna, the least they can do is bring Gendry back.
To read last week’s recap of Episode 2, click HERE.
To read my recap from Episode 1, click HERE.