Game of Thrones: Lessons in failure
So, it was not a particularly stellar week for Dany and Team Good Guys in the battle for the Iron Throne. For the second week in a row, the Mother of Dragons has found herself both outsmarted on the battlefield, and down a powerful ally. But as her nemesis Jaime himself would say, you could learn a lot from your mistakes. And this war is far from over.
Also this week: a cordial clash occurs between fire and ice, a long-awaited Stark reunion turns decidedly creepy, Sam Tarley gets a promotion of sorts, and Lady Olenna wins the title of Episode MVP by about a mile, proving to all of us that just because you’ve been defeated, doesn’t mean you can’t win.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in to “The Queen’s Justice!”
When Dany Met Jonny…
All you folks out there who were thinking that the first meeting between the Queen of Lots of Last Names and the King of the North would be all hearts, flowers, and sexual innuendo have clearly never watched a rom-com. They have to fight first, guys! That’s what makes the makeup sex so satisfying later. (I mean that figuratively, of course, because Dany and Jon are actually kind of related, and we already have enough of that on this show.)
But before we delve into that meeting, let’s start with the one that did go swimmingly: the reunion between Tyrion Lannister and Jon Snow. What a fabulous bromance! The scenes these two shared during this episode could basically have doubled as the film trailer for the buddy cop comedy I never knew I always wanted.
“The Bastard of Winterfell!” Tyrion exclaims fondly, as Jon sets foot on Dragonstone for the first time.
“The Dwarf of Casterly Rock,” Jon replies, gleefully swapping pet names with his new favorite pal. (By the way, Jon Snow is apparently funny? Did we know that? Does coming back from the dead somehow give you a sense of humor? Is that a thing? Perhaps we should ask this guy?)
Jon and Tyrion quickly congratulate one another for each accomplishing the amazing feat of actually surviving seven seasons on this show. (Well, technically, Jon cheated a bit on the whole “surviving” thing. But we will let that slide for now.)
After dispensing with the awkward unpleasantness of having Jon, Davos, and their men dispose of their weapons, Tyrion leads the group of Northerners toward Dany’s castle. As they make the climb, Jon gets to make the acquaintance of not one, not two, but all three of Dany’s dragons. Now, that’s what I call rolling out the red carpet for your guests!
Understandably, Jon seems a bit shaken when he sees Dany for the first time, lounging in her uber uncomfortable chair. (She must have buns of steel!) Then Missandei makes things worse by spending about five minutes reading out all 562 of the titles Dany has earned since she got on this show.
Now surely, Davos in his position as Jon’s unofficial Hand of the King will work hard to make the King of the North seem equally important and scary, right?
“Um… this is Jon Snow. He has really nice hair,” Davos mumbles, more or less. (Well, it’s a good thing you don’t have a career in PR, Davos.)
Things then get off to an even rockier start, with Dany refusing to refer to Jon as King (calling him, instead, the pejorative “Lord”) and Jon, likewise failing to refer to Dany as his Queen. This uncomfortable exchange is followed by the pair exchanging “Yo Daddy” jokes about each other’s respective deceased parental units. (“Yo Daddy” jokes are absolutely the Westeros version of “Yo Mamma” jokes because sexism).
Part of the problem here, in addition to an obvious clash of egos (Dany has very nice hair too, after all!), is that both Dany and Jon agree to this meeting for very different reasons. Dany wants Jon to offer his loyalty and allegiance to her, so she can use his army to help her win the war against Cersei for the Iron Throne. Jon wants Dany’s dragons and her resources to defeat the Night’s King and his Army of Walking Dead extras, folks that Dany doesn’t believe even exist.
To prove her case, Dany launches into a rather impressive monologue about all the crap she’s been through in seven seasons, and how she somehow managed to rise above it all. “Oh yeah?” Davos pipes in. “Well, Jon got stabbed in the stomach eight times, and not only survived, but still has perfect six pack abs!”
Jon shuts Davos up before he can complete the statement, which for me was a bit disappointing. After all, I think Dany may have respected Jon more if she knew that she wasn’t the only one on this show with weird magical powers.
With Jon and Dany at a seeming impasse, the Mother of Dragons abruptly adjourns the meeting upon hearing news of Euron’s defeat of Yara’s fleet. This gives the bromantic buddies, Tyrion and Jon, an opportunity to brood together outside, which makes the former a bit jealous. After all, Jon Snow may know nothing, but he’s the best brooder in all of Westeros.
Ever the pragmatist, Tyrion manages to glean from Jon a lesser request than Dany’s dragons and the use of her army: namely, the ability to mine dragon glass and forge it into weapons to defeat the undead. Dany reluctantly agrees to this request, as a gesture of good faith to a potential future ally, even if she secretly thinks Jon’s zombie claims are totally bonkers.
It’s not quite the makeup sex we were hoping for, but it’s foreplay for sure!
Speaking of foreplay…
For When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best… Hallmark Euron Greyjoy’s “Gifts”
Back at Kings Landing, Cersei’s sassy Gay Best Friend Euron rides triumphantly into town to the cheers of the crowd. And he’s not arriving empty-handed either. Euron’s got gifts! Just like he promised! He strings Ellaria, that Sandsnake that Didn’t Die, and Yara along after him like dogs.
Cersei seems mildly pleased with these “gifts” (though it’s a bit hard to tell, seeing as I don’t think we’ve seen this character smile in about 6.5 seasons). She even promises to marry Euron, once they’ve won the battle for the Iron Throne in earnest.
Thrilled with the news of impending nuptials that are obviously never going to happen, Euron takes this opportunity to ask Jaime for Cersei sex advice. “Does she like it when you put your finger in her bum?” Euron wonders out loud to Jaime’s chagrin. (I’m going to take that dubious response as a “yes.”)
While Euron is busy using Jaime as his personal Dr. Ruth, Cersei is busy playing with her gifts. (Well, two of them. Poor Yara kind of gets tossed aside, like the ugly sweater you got on the same birthday you received your first X-Box.)
In a rather cruel bit of poetic justice, Cersei decides to kill that Random Sandsnake Whose Name I Never Bothered Learning in the same manner Ellaria used to kill Cersei’s daughter, Myrcella, namely a poison kiss. Then, rather than kill Ellaria, herself, Cersei decides to lock her up for life, where she will be forced to spend her days staring at her daughter’s corpse. Ouch!
We Interrupt This Very Special Torture Session for Some Twincest…
Damning one of her many enemies to a lifetime of torture is apparently a huge turn on for Cersei, because immediately after doing it, she proceeds to jump Jaime’s bones. (I turned my head away during this scene, so I couldn’t tell whether Jaime actually put his finger in his sister’s bum or not.)
After they’re done doing the deed, Cersei proudly flaunts her twincest in front of her servant (who weirdly has the same haircut she has? Is that like a castle uniform requirement?). Cersei then heads downstairs to meet with her banker to discuss some investment opportunities. Just another day in the life of the Evil Queen.
Oddly enough though, watching Cersei bone her brother wasn’t the ickiest family moment in this episode.
In Which Bran Stark Makes Us All Feel Intensely Uncomfortable…
Back at Winterfell, Sansa seems to be having a great time playing King of the North in Jon’s absence. She’s issuing commands with a cold efficiency that would even give the Mother of Dragons a run for her money. Littlefinger notices this, and like the broken record he’s become this season, reminds Sansa how cool it would be if she overthrew her brother Jon, and ruled the North for realsies.
“See everyone as your enemy. Fight every battle in your mind,” Littlefinger counsels. (During this exchange, Sansa’s mind fights to keep her stomach from upchucking, as Littlefinger’s mind undresses her with his eyes.)
The conversation is thankfully cut short by the arrival of Sansa’s brother Bran, who she hasn’t seen in years. Sansa cries with joy as she hugs her brother, but Bran… sort of just sits there staring into space like a Game of Thrones bobble head of himself?
Later, the two reconnect by a tree. During their chat, Bran tells Sansa all about his new job as The One-Eyed Raven, AKA The Guy Who Watched All Seven Seasons of Game of Thrones on DVD, and Also Got a Leak of Season 8. So, basically, Jon Snow knows nothing, and his little brother knows literally everything.
As we all know, nobody likes a know-it-all, particularly one who lacks social skills, as Bran clearly does. (In Bran’s defense, it’s probably hard to learn how to properly communicate with people when you spend most of your life talking only to a guy who says the word “Hodor” over and over again.)
“Hey, remember that time when you married that psychopath, and he brutally raped you, while the smelly guy watched? Wasn’t that funny?” Bran recounts conversationally, before eerily launching into a detailed description of how hot his sister looked in her dress, during the worst moment of her life. (Sansa’s mind at this point is definitely fighting the Battle Not to Punch Her Invalid Brother in the face.)
“Um, I’ve gotta go. I’m suddenly feeling very much in need of a shower,” Sansa mutters awkwardly, before exiting stage left.
“But wait! Can somebody move me away from this creepy tree with the face on it first? I kind of have to pee!” Bran replies. “Did you forget that I don’t have use of my legs anymore? HELLO???!!!”
You see, that’s the thing about knowledge. Sometimes it’s best if you keep it to yourself.
Samwell Tarley: He’s Not Just for Scooping Poop Anymore
But knowledge is not always bad! Sometimes it saves lives! As is the case with Jorah Mormont, who Sam Tarley has cured of greyscale by literally chopping it off his body, and making us all vomit in the process. (Ten points for Gryffindor!)
Now Jorah can go find Dany and be friend-zoned by her for the 896th time this season! Hooray!
Sam’s boss at the Hogwarts School for the Elderly and Unattractive is super impressed with Sam for his ability to read books and follow one-step simple instructions. He’s so impressed, in fact, that he offers Sam a promotion… from pooper scooper to paperboy!
Watch this Sam Tarley guy, kids. He’s going places… very, very slowly!
A Game of Bad News/Good News
Let’s start with the bad news first, to get it out of the way. Like last week, this week’s installment of Game of Thrones ends with a battle. It’s time for the Unsullied and the Dothraki to conquer Casterly Rock, the Lannister’s birth home. They do so by entering the city through its sewers, which just so happened to be Tyrion’s fave hangout as a kid!
The takeover of Casterly Rock is easy… almost too easy. And a few moments later, we find out why.
As we wait for Jaime and his men to meet the Unsullied Army at Casterly Rock, we come to find them crossing the border into another place entirely, Highgarden, home of Dany’s new allies the Tyrells, and their bad-as-bitch leader, Lady Olenna.
To her credit, Lady Olenna takes her demise in stride, as she calmly greets Jaime in her home. She’s lived a long life, and seen a lot of loved ones die. This, I imagine, makes her fear death less, and even welcome it somewhat.
The two converse almost cordially, as Olenna congratulates Jaime for outsmarting Dany, when usually he’s such a moron in battle; a good looking moron, but a moron, nonetheless. The Queen of Thorns gets her barbs in where she can, of course, calling Joffrey a cunt for naming his sword the Widow’s Wail, and Cersei a monster and a disease. While Lady Olenna did terrible things for the sake of protecting her family, Cersei does them just for the sake of being evil, the older woman explains.
Lady Olenna is oddly maternal with Jaime, especially given their history. She even seems to take pity on him for his love of Cersei, which she believes will only end in his demise. In term, Jaime seems almost fond of Olenna, fending off Cersei’s ideas for a more brutal death to the sole surviving Tyrell, in exchange for an ending that’s a bit more classy: a painless death by poison in her wine glass.
Lady Olenna is grateful for this, and drinks the poison willingly, but not before offering a final parting fuck you to the Lannister family that destroyed everything she loved. (See, I told you there would be good news!)
Olenna takes this opportunity to compare her painless death by poison to Joffrey’s death, also by poison… WHICH WAS SO DISGUSTING, AND ALSO SO AWESOME! In fact, I think this is a great time to relive it, don’t you?!!
“Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me,” concludes Olenna with a smile.
Brilliant last words for a fabulous character, who will be sorely missed. But at least she went down fighting! In fact, if they had tombstones in Westeros, I’m sure Lady Olenna would want this epitaph on hers.
For now, the Lannisters just better hope that Lady Olenna doesn’t come back as a member of the Undead. Because there will be some serious hell to pay if she does!
See ya next time, Westeros!