For the first forty-five minutes or so of last night’s Game of Thrones episode “Eastwatch”, it felt like the show runners were content to reel things in a bit and allow fans a decompression episode after the gloriously violent conclusion to last week’s episode. Then, right around the ¾ mark of the episode, they allow a minor character to stumble into a discovery that, unbeknownst to the main characters, might just shake up the entire story. I’ll get to that shortly, as it’s all I really want to talk about, but the nature of a recap demands I go in chronological order so…
So first of all kudos to the show for not dragging on the whole “Did Jaime survive thing” and starting off the episode with Bronn dragging the very much alive Jaime out of the river. Understandably Jaime is pretty shook by what just happened and catches on pretty quick that as of right now the war is not exactly winnable for his side, what with the dragons and Dothraki of it all. From there we cut maybe a mile at most down the river to the aftermath of the battle where Dany has had all of the surviving enemy combatants gathered together before her and her favorite dragon child Drogon. From there she does what it seems is rapidly becoming her favorite thing to do and demands that all of them bend the knee or die. Seriously, Dany is all about that knee bending this season. Well most of them catch on pretty quick that this is the best course of action, but not the Tarly’s, no sir. Proving what we kind of already knew, that he has more pride than intelligence, Randall Tarly (Sam’s dad for those struggling to keep track) refuses to bow to Dany and his stupid son Dickon (Sam’s younger brother and the Tarly heir) decides he wants to be just like dad. So Dany has Drogon burn them to a crisp. During this exchange Tyrion, who clearly wasn’t ready for the horrors of a prolonged war, tries desperately to find a way to save the lives of the Tarly’s, but being that they refused to be kneebenders, there was only so much Tyrion could do.
Next we cut to Kings Landing where, thanks to the show runners realizing that time is short and no longer insisting that we see every second of travel, Jaime has returned to deliver the bad news to Cersei. As mentioned before Jaime is shook by his encounter and makes it pretty clear to Cersei that not only can their army not defeat Dany’s dragons, they can’t even defeat her army. They went from thinking they were winning the war to realizing that they don’t really even have a chance in the span of one episode. Cersei, while seemingly aware of their incredibly unfortunate situation, seems rather chill about it, focused instead on trying to find a proper delaying tactic to allow her side time to regroup. Right when she half-jokingly mentions the idea of maybe using Tyrion’s guilt to convince him to intercede on their behalf, Jaime drops the real bomb and reveals the truth about Joffrey’s death. Cersei takes this about as well as you’d expect her to, but really what can she do, kill Olena again?
From there we cut back to Dragonstone, where, as Jon stares out upon the ocean, brooding as only he can, Dany comes riding in on a still somewhat pissed off Drogon. Jon, having worked very hard on his reactions from the last time he got near Drogon, approaches the snarling dragon and proceeds to pet the thing as if it was a particularly good puppy. And not only does Drogon allow it, he seems to enjoy it. Dany is obviously taken aback by this, and incidentally, based on the look she gives Jon in that moment, seems to enjoy what she is seeing very much. They then proceed to have a rather brief conversation on the realities of ruling, before Dany starts trying to figure out what Davos meant when he said that Jon “took a knife in his heart”. Before Jon is forced to answer that particularly awkward question, he is interrupted by the return of Jorah Mormont, now cured of grey scale, which distracts Dany enough that she does not manage to get back to that question in this episode. Interestingly enough, Jon doesn’t seem particularly happy with the warmth with which Dany greats Jorah, perhaps a bit of jealousy?
From there we get a quick bird’s-eye view of the army of the dead, courtesy of Bran before jumping forward to the Citadel, where the maesters disdainfully read the message he sent them. Sam, being present for this discussion attempts to convince the maesters of its authenticity, but honestly, Sam does not really give off the gravitas of someone whose words should be headed so they ignore him. We also find out that the maesters have as of yet not told Sam about the fiery deaths of his father and brother, something that is surely being held back for a payoff down the line.
We then jump back to Dragonstone where after a rather weary conversation between Tyrion and Varys, in which Varys urges Tyrion to quickly regain favor in Dany’s eyes, we jump to one of the most significant council meetings in the history of the show. After learning that the Army of the Dead marches on Eastwatch, Jon begs to be given leave to return to the North to defend his people, asking Dany to lend him support. Dany refuses stating the obvious that if her army leaves, Cersei’s forces will march in and take back the lands they have claimed immediately. It is then Tyrion devises a plan. Send someone north of The Wall to capture a walker or wight, and then present that to Cersei as proof, thus securing a ceasing of hostilities while Dany and Jon fight the real enemy. To do this Tyrion sets off for Kings Landing to ask Jaime for help securing the meeting they will need, as Jorah and Jon go north of The Wall to capture one of the creatures. Dany learning of Jon’s intent to go and her attempts to stop him from leaving are perhaps the truest signal yet of what is to come between the two of them. This season has taken place over the course of what is likely weeks if not months and it appears the two characters have fallen for each other, Dany having fallen perhaps even more than Jon. The speech Jon delivers when Dany tells him he cannot leave is perhaps the perfect example of how far this character has come from the boy who railed against an unfair world. He is a king now, and a worthy one at that, shaped by the horrors he has experienced into perhaps the best hope for the world.
From there we cut to Winterfell where the nobles are getting restless and Sansa is simply trying to keep everything from falling apart. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be enough for Arya, who refuses to give Sansa credit for growth that she wasn’t there to see. She doesn’t think that Sansa is standing up for Jon forcefully enough and it looks like this may be a source of conflict moving forward.
We then jump back to Kings Landing where three significant things happen. First Tyrion manages to quiet sneakily arrange his meeting with Jaime with the assistance of Bronn, down to having Bronn convince Jaime that they were going to go train, so as to insure that Jaime only had a sparring sword with him and not an actual edged weapon. After a bit of arguing and hashing out of family issues, Tyrion presents his offer. From there we immediately cut to the blacksmithing area of Kings Landing where Davos reunites with Gendry, the bastard son of King Robert, bringing a fan favorite back into the fray. Gendry has been hiding in plain site as a blacksmith but is ready to try something new. We discover that he has in fact forged a battle hammer not unlike the one his father once wielded, and in short order discover that he is quite adept at using it, something that will be very important moving forward as in a later scene he joins up with Jon and Jorah for the adventure north. Before we cut away from Kings Landing we are treated to another discovery, after hearing the offer that Tyrion has presented to Jaime, Cersei reveals that she is pregnant with yet another one of Jaime’s children, something that is sure to cause plenty of complications down the road.
We are then treated to the actual meeting of Gendry and Jon, just before Jon and his crew set out on their voyage back to the North. Just before they leave we are treated to yet another exchange between Dany and Jon that reminds the audience once again that there is definitely something blossoming between these two. We then cut immediately back to the Citadel where perhaps the most significant bit of information in the history of the show is revealed. Gilly, reading books to amuse herself while Sam works, stumbles on to the discovery that Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, brother of Daenerys, and at the time of his death heir to the Iron Throne, had annulled his marriage to Elia Martell and married another. Combined with the knowledge that we have that Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark are Jon’s true parents, and that they were in fact in love, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that they married before Jon was born, which would in fact make Jon the true born son of Prince Rhaegar, and thus the rightful king of the Seven Kingdoms! This fact uttered in aside by Gilly and completely ignored by Sam, is an earth shaking development, which if discovered by the main players in the story, could fundamentally and utterly alter the political landscape of Westeros. Now the only question remains, what will Jon do when he learns everything he ever wanted is his for the taking, yet at the cost of his identity as a Stark? Oh yeah, the scene ends with Sam and Gilly fleeing the Citadel in the middle of the night with a bunch of books but that feels insignificant at the moment.
Back at Winterfell Littlefinger is scheming away, arranging for Arya to find the note that Sansa was forced to write begging Robb to pledge loyalty to Joffrey. It’s hard to tell exactly what Arya’s reaction to this letter will be but you definitely have to be concerned any time Littlefinger starts smiling. Hopefully Arya is not that easily manipulated but we will have to wait and see.
The final scene we are treated to is Jon and company arriving at Eastwatch, where there are plenty of fan favorite characters waiting for them. Beyond Tormund who immediately enlists in the journey north, we also discover that The Hound, Thoros, and Beric Dondarrion are currently in the Eastwatch cells, as they too had made plans for a journey beyond the wall. Seeing as they were all heading in the same direction anyway, Jon enlists them in his quest and the episode ends as they march through the gate and in to the snowy wilds.
There wasn’t a ton of action in this week’s episode but what we did get was a fire hose of information and exposition, culminating in the earth shattering reveal about Jon’s true status in the world. Now we look forward to next week, when seven of the baddest dudes in Westeros journey north of the Wall and encounter the army of the dead first hand. Gotta assume that not all of them are coming back through the gate alive, so what happens next will be interesting to see!