This week’s ‘Game of Thrones’ was highly unusual for the series, for among the deaths of characters and secret plotting, there was some actual hope, and some happiness mixed in.
Anyways, the episode starts with Edd checking out Jon Snow’s sword as Jon prepares to leave, with Jon explaining the loophole about serving “until death” as Edd tries to talk him out of leaving. Jon seems pretty committed though, and as he heads out the door there is a new arrival at the front gates of Castle Black, and we realize that Brienne and Pod have arrived with Sansa, and almost unbelievably, we are actually going to see two members of the Stark family reunite. Jon and Sansa stare at each other in shock, the characters probably just as surprised as we are that they have finally had some good luck, and they rush to embrace each other. They head inside to catch up, and we see a side to both characters rarely ever seen, smiles and jokes as they reconnect with a long lost sibling, and frankly, it is unnerving. As happy as I was to see them back together, part of me worries that ‘Thrones’ is giving us this reunion just to make it all the more tragic when something bad happens to Jon or Sansa later this season. Of course, the fun ends when they start discussing where to go from there, and Jon informs Sansa that he is done with fighting and wants to head south and be warm, while she wants to marshall forces and take back Winterfell, and dispose of the monster that has taken over their home.
Meanwhile, outside, Sir Davos finally comes around to asking Melissandre what happened to Shireen, but before she can answer the extremely uncomfortable question, Brienne arrives, glaring at the two of them, and reminds them that she served under Renly Baratheon, and accuses Melissandre (basically) of creating the shadow creature that killed her beloved king. The conversation is not finished, but you can bet that Davos and Brienne are going to be demanding answers to their questions before too long, and Melissandre needs a good reason for the two of them not to kill her.
Back in the Vale (in a location called Runestone, which sounds a little too fantasy for ‘Game of Thrones’), Lord Robin is being trained in archery by his bannerman Yohn Royce when Littlefinger arrives, finally having returned to the Vale following his schemes to marry Sansa to Ramsay. Littlefinger first presents Robin with a bird as a gift, further entrenching his loyalty, then faces Royce. Royce does not trust Littlefinger and accuses him of selling his “niece” to the Boltons, but Littlefinger turns the situation on Royce, claiming that he and Sansa were ambushed by Bolton forces who knew their travel plans and giving Sansa to Ramsay was the only way for them to survive. Littlefinger insinuates that Royce sold them out to the Boltons, and almost has Robin convinced to drop his bannerman through the moon door, but Littlefinger stops him, and instead demands that Royce swear his fealty to Robin and the realm once more. From there, Littlefinger begins to make plans with Robin and Royce to prepare their armies to go to war with the Boltons, which would sound like good news except we all know how Littlefinger’s schemes always end up helping him alone.
In King’s Landing, Margaery is visited by the High Sparrow, who decides to divulge his origin story to the young queen, explaining how he was a cobbler with fine tastes who yearned for the life of a high-born, but after a particularly rowdy party that ended with all his high and mighty friends naked in heaps next to the women they made love to, the Sparrow realized that he and his friends were living lies and that the poor and beggars held more of the truth than any of them. He then allows Margaery to visit her brother Sir Loras, who looks like he has been having an even harder time of it in the Sparrow’s prison than she. Loras begs for her to “make it stop,” but Margaery seems unsure of what to do in the situation, as she does not want to do what the High Sparrow wants her to do.
In the Red Keep, Tommen and Cersei have a talk, where Tommen asks if his mom really does not like Margaery (duh kid), and then Tommen decides to share with Cersei some confidential information that the High Sparrow gave to him (big mistake). Cersei takes that information to the Small Council meeting, bullying Olenna and Uncle Kevan to stay and speak with them by pointing out that the High Sparrow wants them all to bicker amongst themselves instead of uniting to face him. Cersei reveals that the High Sparrow told Tommen that Margaery was ready to atone for her sins by doing a Walk of Shame similar to Cersei’s, and Olenna is pissed, as she cannot allow her family to share that indignity. Cersei then reminds her uncle that he does not want his son Lancel to remain in the Sparrow’s forces as a brainwashed soldier any longer than necessary either, and so the group forms a pact to unite to get rid of the High Sparrow, using the Tyrell army which will sweep down and destroy the Sparrows, while Kevan keeps the City Watch behind in the Red Keep to protect the King. The plans sound foolproof, but the High Sparrow has outsmarted them all before.
Tyrion invites the Masters from the other city of Slaver’s Bay to Mereen, where he opens negotiations with them to end their “war,” much to the chagrin of Missandei and Grey Worm, who do not trust the slavers. Tyrion rightfully points out that slavery and war are both evils, but he cannot stop both at once. His compromise to the slavers is to allow them 7 years to phase out slavery (pointing out that he grew up much richer than they, and there are no slaves in Westeros), and in return they need to stop funding the Sons of the Harpy. The deal is not met well by Missandei and Grey Worm, but Tyrion reminds them that Dany picked him as her advisor, and he sees this as their best course of action for the time being. Grey Worm points out to him that he might think he is striking an accord with the Masters, but in the end, they will use him to achieve their own ends, as that is what they do.
At Winterfell, Ramsay has Osha brought to him after being cleaned up, and she puts on a fine act of not caring about the Starks or Rickon and claiming that she has seen far worse than a man who flays his enemies. She thinks she knows exactly how to play the situation, but Ramsay is cunning and soon proves it. While she mounts him and begins pleasuring him, all while reaching for a knife on the table, Ramsay tells her about how he broke Theon Greyjoy, who told him all about Osha and how she helped the Starks escape Winterfell the first time. Before she can strike he stabs her in the throat, thus ending another long-time character on the show, and reminding us that it will need to be a big character and a big moment that finally ends the evil of Ramsay Bolton.
Back at Castle Black, Jon, Edd and Tormund share a meal with Sansa, Pod, and Brienne, and it is clear that Tormund finds Brienne very attractive, though it is not so clear what she thinks of him. Sansa and Jon point out that the food at Castle Black is not great, and after thousands of year the Night’s Watch never learned to brew a proper ale either. However, it seems Sansa is still trying to get Jon to go with her to free Winterfell, and Tormund seems interested, especially when it is pointed out that the Boltons will never allow the Wildlings to live freely in the North. Unfortunately, Sansa knows that Ramsay has at least 5,000 men, and there are only about 2,000 Wildlings ready to fight. At that moment, a messenger arrives from Ramsay, with a chilling letter for Jon. In it, Ramsay demands that Sansa be returned to him, or he will kill Rickon. Sansa grabs the letter once Jon stops reading and finishes, reading about how Ramsay plans to rape Sansa if he has to come to Castle Black to fetch her himself. Clearly, in that moment, Jon makes the right decision, and it seems we will be seeing the Starks attempt to reclaim Winterfell this season.
Finally, we get back to Vaes Dothrak, where Daario and Sir Jorah manage to infiltrate the city, though they do have to take down a couple of warriors to do so, and it seems Jorah is not as spry as he used to be, as he is saved by Daario when he cannot take down his opponent. They finally make it to Daenerys as she steps outside to “make water,” and she orders them to stand down, as she has a plan. (and hot damn, is it a good one). She is later brought before the Khals, who she berates for thinking so small as her Khal wanted to rule the world, and they only seem interested in what villages to plunder next. They threaten her by saying they are going to rape her and then pass her around for everyone else to rape, and she tells them that they are not fit to lead, not even fit to serve. But, she points out, she is fit to lead, and she will. She then knocks over all of the burning pyres in the wooden hut, and sits back as all of the Khals burn, unable to escape as her men have blockaded the door. Once the entire building is aflame and the Khals are dead, the entire nation of the Dothraki (so it seems) gathers outside the hut to watch their Khals burn. And then Dany exits the hut, naked and unscathed from the flames, and every person present bows to her, the new leader of the entire Dothraki nation. It is an awesome Daenerys moment, and perfect in that she freed herself from her situation, and did not need Daario, Jorah, or a dragon to do so.
– Could we see a point this season where Sansa and Jon, plus the Wildlings, join forces with an army of Ironborn led by Theon to take down Ramsay? I would definitely cheer at that.
– I wonder if the High Sparrow told Tommen that “confidential” information knowing that the boy would tell his mother, thus allowing the High Sparrow justification for taking the King to one of his cells for breaking an oath. Definitely seems like the kind of nonsense that Sparrow would pull.
– With the Dothraki at her command, I wonder if Dany now has the forces to take and hold all of Slaver’s Bay
– Did not mention Theon’s return home in the recap, but it was a relatively small scene, but I thought I should mention it here as it might have repercussions in the future as Theon has thrown in his lot with his sister to help make her the new ruler of the Iron Born.
This is undoubtedly my favorite episode of the season so far, as it was great to finally see a Stark reunion, and even better to see another powerful Daenerys moment. I cannot wait to see what she does with her new Dothraki forces, and to see how she reacts to Tyrion’s plans in Mereen. See you back here next week!