In comparison to last Sunday’s mid-season episode, this week’s “Game of Thrones” was somewhat anticlimactic—but even still, there was never a dull moment.
Jon is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Although Sam ignored Gilly’s ramblings, she discovered a crucial fact among his growing pile of books: High Septon Maynard, under the Mad King’s reign, issued an annulment of Prince Rhaegar’s marriage to Elia Martell and married him instead to another woman during a secret ceremony in Dorne. When it was revealed that Lyanna Stark died giving birth to Jon Snow, we found her hidden and well-guarded at the Tower of Joy, which is on the edge of Dorne. Until now, we assumed Jon was a bastard, but this revelation puts Jon above Daenerys in line for the throne—and explains why Drogon took so well to him.
Daenerys shows her strength. However cruel her method of execution was, Dany accomplished exactly what she set out to do. The Westerosi see Dany as a foreign invader coming to claim their lands, but she knew they would bend the knee the minute she exterminated a powerful house by burning its lord and his heir. She did not initially intend to prove the Lords of Westeros right by sending the Dothraki or her dragons into the field, but with her Westerosi allies gone, it was time to play dirty. Now that she has the upper hand, Dany could theoretically attack King’s Landing tomorrow and be done with it, but instead she agreed to meet Cersei with potential truce offerings. She also permitted her dearest friend to embark on a mission she swore she wanted no part in with a man who refuses to bend the knee. Varys said it best: she will never be the Mad King, she just needs to prioritize and realize that a little direction from her council will go a long way.
Jon fights for the side that fights for the living. Night’s Watch or not, Jon’s priority will always be to ignore the Southern wars and protect the realm as a whole—and, in this case, forgive the sins of those who serve his purpose. The raiding party heading north of the Wall consists of men who have individually crossed paths under negative circumstances, but Jon once again preaches that so long as they are breathing, they are on the same side. Whatever hatred they have toward each other, these seven men—Jon, Jorah, The Hound, Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr, Tormund and Gendry—are connected in more ways than they’ll probably ever have time to discuss. Gendry and The Hound both know Arya on a level Jon will never believe; Beric was brought back to life five more times than Jon, and Gendry witnessed it; Jon holds a sword that was meant to be Jorah’s; and the list goes on.
Gendry masters his father’s weapon. It was no surprise that Gendry and Jon hit it off, seeing as they were both bastards born to powerful Westerosi men (as far as they know). Gendry has spent the years since his disappearance mastering the warhammer, Robert Baratheon’s weapon of choice, in hopes that he would one day have an opportunity to live up to his father’s name. He jumped at the chance to go beyond the Wall because instead of being driven by a desire for vengeance, he’s driven by a desire to be a war hero like his father. Nearly every other character would have chosen vengeance in his position, so his restraint is a rare and admirable quality. He has no intention of hiding his identity, so long as he can carry on the Baratheon legacy. If only that hammer were Valyrian steel.
The dead don’t make good hostages. In theory, the strategy of capturing a wight and bringing it to King’s Landing is as clever as anything Tyrion has ever said, but a wight can’t possibly be a pleasant travel companion. In Season One, a wight’s hand was brought to King’s Landing but stopped moving by the time the rider got there. If they somehow manage to succeed in bringing a dead soldier south of the Wall, hopefully it will last long enough to convince not only Cersei but also the Citadel that the threat exists. This is all assuming Jon and Co. can even accomplish this seemingly impossible task. If one of them dies, the simplest scenario would be to tie him up, wait until he turns and bring that body back with them.
Littlefinger’s birds plant seeds at Winterfell. Arya might be a great assassin, but apparently she’s not a very good spy and Littlefinger is using that to his advantage. Make no mistake, Littlefinger planted that scroll hoping Arya would take the bait and she did. If you pause on the scroll, you’ll see the letter is the one Sansa sent Robb in Season One, begging him to bend the knee in order to save Ned’s life. Robb and Catelyn knew that it was Cersei’s words, but Arya might not see it that way and Littlefinger knows it. He has seen Arya fight and saw the fear in Sansa’s eyes when she realizes how dangerous Arya has become. He knows if Sansa and Arya’s relationship goes sour, Sansa will come to him…and the riff between the two girls is already beginning. Arya might have need of that dagger sooner than we thought.
Cersei will agree to an armistice of sorts. Cersei learned from her father that in order to win a losing battle, it is essential to work with your enemies, as the Lannisters did with the Tyrells and the Martells in earlier seasons. Now that she’s supposedly pregnant and willing to publically identify Jaime as the father in addition to the fact that she currently has no army (save for the Iron Fleet), Cersei knows an initial truce, or “accommodation,” with Dany is inevitable for their safety. In her eyes, however, the peace would only last until she can figure out a way to sway Dany’s followers in her favor. As for Jaime, he should know by now that there are no secrets from Cersei and she does not make idle threats. She will not condone another betrayal—from Jaime, and certainly not from Bronn.
More to consider:
Is anyone concerned about the Freys’ demise? Arya told Walder Frey’s young wife to tell people “winter came for House Frey” when they ask what happened. She didn’t even attempt to hide her identity and yet no one has even mentioned the deadly feast.
And what about Edmure Tully? When the Lannister and Tully armies took back Riverrun, they threw Edmure Tully back into the dungeons at the Twins. Is Arya’s uncle and the heir to her mother’s home just chilling in a cell starving to death because Arya killed his captors?
Where is the rest of the Brotherhood? The Brotherhood Without Banners was a pretty big deal in the first three seasons and even when they stayed at the farmer’s house during the Season Seven premiere, there were more men.
Clarification on the R+L=J theory: Fans did not initially believe the theory that Jon is a Targaryen because Jon burned his hand when he killed the first wight in Season One. But to clarify, he is only half Targaryen, whereas Daenerys was born of incest to the Mad King and his sister. Regardless, even Dany’s brother Viserys, who is also a pureblood Targaryen, burned to death when Khal Drogo gave him his “golden crown.” In other words, having the “blood of the dragon” is not synonymous with having Targaryen blood.
To read last week’s recap, click HERE.
For Episode Three, click HERE.
For Episode Two, click HERE.
For Episode One, click HERE.