Your regular recapper Kayti Burt has gone north to capture a White Walker, so I’m filling in again this week. Dracarys!
After the heart-stopping insanity of last week’s “Spoils of War,” it’s not surprising that Game of Thrones (and to a large extent their VFX budget) spent the subsequent week in a much quieter place, setting up its final two episodes of the season. What is surprising is how quickly we can take for granted the payoff of seven seasons worth of conversations and world building, as things which used to take 10 episodes to happen (a person moving from one area of Westeros to another) now happen instantaneously. The amount of reunions and interactions we’ve witnessed in this season alone would have seemed unfathomable in Seasons 3 or 4. Things are moving fast, and it’s important, as I noted last week, to really pause and bask in that. Even an episode that feels as plot-serving as “Eastwatch” has, embedded within it, some fantastic moments.
On a macro level, “Eastwatch” detailed for us how the dragons, the White Walkers, and the quest for the Iron Throne are getting organized as far as priorities go. Jon has successfully convinced Dany, her advisors, and potentially the Lannisters via Tyrion, that the threat of the Night King is real. To that end, until his army of the dead is defeated (or kills them all), that needs to be their focus, and the quarrels regarding the Iron Throne seems very, very insignificant. So, Dany has asked Cersei for an armistice in light of that fact.
There hasn’t been any discussion yet about how helpful the dragons might be in this situation, but we’re dealing with just one magical entity at a time I suppose. Nearly no one in a position of power believes the reality of the White Walkers, yet it’s imperative that everyone band together against them. Thus, Jon and his motley crew of Westerosi sundries are going to seal the deal for Cersei and everyone else by Operation Dumbo Drop-ping a White Walker into King’s Landing to drive home the point.
On a more micro level, “Eastwatch” gave us some important character moments and valuable info about things other than wights and dragons. First things first, we learned that Jaime and Bronn are alive and well, and though Tyrion and his brother have established their own kind of truce, Cersei is not about to let Jaime get too far from her clutches, intimating to him that she is pregnant with their next child (whether or not she really is remains to be seen). Tyrion is having his own crisis of loyalty with his queen, as he clearly questions Dany’s methods of dealing with those who won’t bend the knee (that is, in a word, “Dracarys”). And while he and Varys share this concern, Varys assures him that with the right counsel, Dany might just turn out ok. Will she need Jon’s cool hand to help temper her hot-headed tendencies? Tune in next week to Love of Thrones to find out! (Seriously, though …)
Speaking of Jon, we got two very key bits of information regarding his heritage. One confirmed his Targaryen background in how he was able to pet Drogon (and Drogon liked it!) and calm him like only a true Targ can. And, in what could have felt like a throwaway scene of Sam complaining about his busy work at the Citadel, Gilly stumbled upon a notice of an annulment that Rhaegar had in Dorne before a second, secret marriage … at the Tower of Joy, perhaps? (Which is located in Dorne). Where Jon Snow was conceived? That would mean that Jon (no longer a bastard) has the strongest and most legitimate claim to the Iron Throne and the unification of the North and South … provided they all survive the Night King (and those dragons, if Dany gets mad about it). Pay attention to your woman, Sam!
With all of these pivotal moments taking place, it’s easy to take for granted things like Gendry Baratheon (the last survivor of Robert Baratheon’s natural sons, and a bastard) showing up again and Davos making a joke about him “still rowing” (a long-time Game of Thrones inside joke). It all led to a fantastically bizarre scene at Eastwatch that included Davos, Gendry, Jon, Jorah, Tormund, and the Brotherhood without Banners (Beric, the Hound, and Thoros of Myr). It was a dizzying mix of plots coming together, with tensions flaring between some of the men as they recalled various death plots they had all been involved in (and there was more besides that too, like when Davos mentioned to Tyrion that he had not forgotten how he burned up his son with wildfire. But it’s Westeros so, evidently you forgive and forget and move on to the next crisis).
While this group seems like they might be fairly successful in their quest, the cracks of other reunions are starting to show. Arya and Sansa’s relationship at Winterfell is a frosty one, and Littlefinger is back to his old ways by leading Arya down a false path to finding a letter supposedly written by Sansa (though I guarantee it wasn’t) in order to start to split them up. Littlefinger’s desire to ally with Sansa is strong, but she hasn’t needed him since her family has come back together. By sowing the seeds of discord, though, he might be able to exert his influence over her again and work towards his ultimate goal — whatever that may be.
Season 7 has set up some incredibly high expectations about what makes a great episode of Game of Thrones, and while I’m tempted to say “Eastwatch” was just ok, it’s worth remembering what we would have given to have seen Gendry three seasons ago. And, now that all of these characters are coming together in ways that I think many of us thought would be saved for the final season, it makes one wonder: what in the Seven is coming next?
Rating: ★★★★ Very good