Despite having the shortest runtime of the series, Sunday’s Game of Thrones was the most adrenalin-inducing episode since “Battle of the Bastards.” For the first time, we saw two of the series’ greatest characters pitted against each other in battle and for the first time since Season One, all the living Stark kids shared the screen.
Long live Jaime Lannister. Mark my words, Jaime Lannister does not die by drowning—no matter how heavy his armor is. More likely, Daenerys will wonder why a man would risk his own life to save another’s unless it was someone important. Tyrion was also close enough to witness the entire scene and could convince Dany to bring Jaime and Bronn back to Dragonstone. Now that the Kingslayer is among the fan favorites, it would be significantly harder to see him as a hostage than it was in Season Two, but that would be the most likely scenario. The question is whether Yara and/or Ellaria will be seen as an equal trade.
Ser Bronn of the Blackwater for episode MVP. From the start, I’ve been certain Bronn would die before ever receiving his prize and thought for sure this would be his final episode. Who knows, maybe he did die—but if he did, it was in a more heroic way than anyone would have expected. Bronn is no dummy: he knows that if Jaime dies, his prize will be forever forgotten. I’m just not entirely convinced that’s why he would risk his own life to save Jaime’s.
Drogon’s injury was worth the risk. Qyburn, who managed to rise from exiled maester to Hand of the Queen to Cersei Lannister, tested the Scorpion (the dragon weapon) on the skeleton of Balerion the Dread and it essentially ripped the skull. For reference, Balerion the Dread was the largest of Aegon Targaryen (known as Aegon the Conqueror) and his sisters’ three dragons and the dragon that melted the swords of Aegon’s enemies to forge the Iron Throne. With his size and power, Balerion induced so much fear and admiration that it caused seven once-individual kingdoms to bend the knee to Aegon and unite under one leader. Now that she knows these weapons exist, Dany has to be more cautious with her dragons. But despite the injury, using Drogon to demonstrate her strength was imperative after losing so many early battles. She just got lucky that it wasn’t a kill shot.
Tyrion will want Jon on Daenerys’ war council. In her moment of distrust toward Tyrion, Dany turned to Jon—and her newfound respect for the King in the North did not go unnoticed. Not only did Tyrion admire Jon’s response, but Dany also heeded Jon’s advice by taking the fight to the fields rather than the Red Keep. The Loot Train Battle was the happy medium that she needed to get back in the game without killing too many innocents. And I have a sneaky feeling the dragons will take well to Jon, as they did for Tyrion.
Cersei looks for new relationships in Essos. With all of Highgarden’s gold safely through the gates of King’s Landing, Cersei’s alliance with the Iron Bank will be sealed. We don’t know how the outcome of the Loot Train Battle will affect Cersei’s plans, but she needs a loan from the Iron Bank now more than ever. She mentioned finding a way to expand both her armies and navies, which she could potentially find in Essos if she knows where to look. With a loan from the Iron Bank, Cersei can now afford to hire the Golden Company, which Davos tells us in Season Four is an army of nearly 10,000 highly skilled sellswords. At the time, the hire was a necessity that Stannis saw as desperate. Cersei might find a more trustworthy alliance in the Wise Masters, who might jump at the opportunity to overthrow Daenerys’ rule in the slave cities. The collapse of the slave trade hurt the Iron Bank as much as the Wise Masters and only the Second Sons are left to keep the peace in the Bay of Dragons (formerly Slaver’s Bay).
Randyll Tarly might not be so different from Cersei. It cannot be overlooked that Randyll Tarly recommended “flogging the stragglers” to keep the army moving—and, more importantly, that Jaime was skeptical of this suggestion. Assuming he survived the battle, these first signs of cruelty could become an issue—especially if Jaime is taken hostage (or dead). On the other hand, Randyll’s son and Sam Tarly’s younger brother, Dickon, was not a fan of his family’s betrayal and was the first to save Jaime’s life during the battle. I don’t think Jaime will forget Dickon’s name again any time soon.
Brienne meets her match. Within hours of receiving the dagger, Arya publicly demonstrates that she already knows exactly how to use it. By way of apologizing to Brienne for not coming with her when she had the chance, Arya asks Brienne to train with her, but her intentions are likely twofold. If Arya is dedicating her free time to maintaining her skills, it’s because her list has not been forgotten. Cersei is still on Sansa’s list, after all, and if Littlefinger betrays a sibling, I know an angry little girl who would happily slit his throat with his own dagger.
More significance to the Valyrian steel dagger. Not only does Arya now hold one of the few blades that can kill White Walkers, but the blade was also used in the assassination attempt on Bran—the event that essentially started the War of the Five Kings. If Bran’s visions have shown him what Arya can do with the dagger, they must have shown him who the dagger belonged to and why someone wanted him dead. Was he asking Littlefinger as a test? Littlefinger claims not to know whose dagger it was, but we know from Season One that it was his and that he lost it to Tyrion. When Bran quotes a conversation that only Varys and Littlefinger were present for, Littlefinger looks genuinely shocked, which leads me to believe he doesn’t know about Bran’s visions yet. By alluding to the fact that he knows Littlefinger’s secrets, Bran put himself in a dangerous position with a dangerous man.
Meera is the most underappreciated character. In my eyes, Meera has had it the worst of any character in the series. She came to Bran’s side only to protect her brother, who died anyway, and because her father was one of Ned Stark’s key bannermen. After years of freezing and starving and losing loved ones, Meera is heading home as if none of it ever happened without so much as a hug goodbye. Her story isn’t over, though. With Jojen gone, Meera is the heir to Greywater Watch, where her father still rules. We haven’t seen or heard from Howland Reed since we met him in Bran’s vision at the Tower of Joy, where Ned found a dying Lyanna Stark and a crying baby Jon Snow. How much does Howland know about Jon’s true parents? Jojen told us his father cried when Ned died, so why hasn’t he rallied to Jon’s side? Or better yet, where was he for Robb?
Sansa doesn’t know what to think. Sansa, forever my least favorite character, must realize by now that her story, while difficult, is far less interesting than her three siblings’. Bran came home with supernatural abilities and a funny new name, Arya came home a skilled fighter with a list of people she means to kill and Jon literally rose from the dead after being murdered by his own men. Her moments with Arya, however tense, were the most crucial. Sansa already alluded to her suspicions about Littlefinger and is also beginning to understand that Arya means business with her list. I’d be surprised if she didn’t soon wonder whether Arya had a hand in the Freys’ demise.
Halfway through the season, there are still so many unanswered questions and so many possibilities for the remaining three episodes.
Is Gendry coming back and is he going to help forge weapons from the dragonglass? Did the Brotherhood Without Banners and the wildlings make it to Eastwatch? Why hasn’t Jon mentioned the Valyrian steel? How much will Bran keep to himself?
So much is yet to come.
To read last week’s recap, click HERE.
For Episode Two, click HERE.
For Episode One, click HERE.