Sansa is settling in well to her new role as Queen in the North in Jon’s absence. She’s dealing with one of the many problems at hand: they don’t have enough food to last through a long winter, especially if the northern armies come to protect Winterfell and other northerners need to take refuge there. Sansa quickly makes an executive decision: there must be regular shipments of grain from all the northern keeps to assure that Winterfell is well supplied. If they don’t end up needing it, it will go back to the keeps, but at the moment Winterfell is the priority. As Sansa walks by the blacksmiths working on armor, she notes that they should be covering the breastplates with leather—a necessary step to provide protection from the extreme cold the soldiers will be fighting in. I think anyone who doubted that Sansa would thrive in command of Winterfell can shut up now.
Petyr Baelish has never doubted Sansa’s capabilities, and despite Jon’s threat to stay away from her, Littlefinger has been following her around like a puppy this entire time. Petyr is running his mouth as usual and warns Sansa that Cersei is dangerous. He says he knows Cersei better than anyone here, which is a bold statement for him to make to Sansa, who arguably knows Cersei much better than Petyr does. Sansa “Snark” reappears to tell Baelish that she’s well aware that the woman who murdered her mother, father, and brother is dangerous and to thank him for his “wise council.” But then we are reminded that, whatever else he might be, Petyr Baelish is a master strategist. He gives Sansa some advice that is actually worth something: that she must fight all possible battles in her head at all times, run through all possible scenarios and figure out the best course of action. In this way, she will never be taken by surprise.
Then, immediately, she is taken by surprise as Bran and Meera arrive at the gate. Sansa is overcome with emotion seeing her brother alive after all this time, but Bran is emotionless. She soon learns that Bran is no longer the boy she once knew. He’s barely even human these days. The reunited Starks have a chat in the Godswood. Sansa tells Bran that he’s the rightful Lord of Winterfell now but Bran refuses to accept. He tells her that he can’t accept because he’s the Three-Eyed Raven, which means absolutely nothing to Sansa. Bran does a terrible job of explaining it to her. In fact, he chooses the worst possible way to impart to her that he’s able to see everything that happens—he forces her to revisit the night of her wedding to Ramsay and subsequent rape. Bran could have chosen any moment, but he chose that one, and even though he told her that he was sorry for what happened to her in their childhood home, he says it in such a detached, emotionless way that the whole thing just seems cruel. It’s not Bran’s intention to hurt his sister, of course, but he’s seemingly no longer capable of human emotion or empathy.
Flaunting his Narrow Sea victory, Euron ‘WELCOME TO JACKASS’ Greyjoy, beaming with pride, leads his captives — Sandsnake Tyene Sand, her mother Ellaria, and his stone-faced niece Yara — through Flea Bottom on a chain, heading up to the Red Keep. Blowing kisses from his battle steed (decked out with a slick new Greyjoy sigil, I might add), he smiles on, mocks Theon’s flight, and brags about his erection (sigh… MEN) as the commoners pelt his bloody and bruised prisoners with garbage a la shame. To great applause, he leads the POWs into the throne room, where Queen Cersei, Jaime, Qyburn and — this isn’t lost on Ellaria, either — zombie Ser Gregor ‘Robert Strong’ Clegane, the man who died killing her husband.Throwing the Sands at the foot of the Iron Throne, Euron proclaims that he has provided Cersei with a gift no man has been able to provide (side-eye to Jaime): justice for her daughter’s murder. Ellaria punctuates this sentiment with her thoughts — and spits at the scowling queen’s feet. Promising a proper reward, Cersei gives Euron her word that he will have whatever his heart desires (in this case, her hand in marriage)… AFTER the war is won. Cersei addresses the crowd and announces the official allegiance between the Throne and the Greyjoys, and, as they applaud, Euron and Jaime share barbs — namely, subtly threatening to get each other killed and Euron snarkily asking a furious and restrained Jaime for advice on seducing Cersei.
Later, in the dungeons, after Euron has led away his niece as his own prize, Cersei has Ellaria and her daughter gagged and chained up opposite each other, with the Mountain at her side. Smugly, she reminds Ellaria of the day Ser Gregor crushed Oberyn Martell’s skull in detail, no longer even attempting to veil the fact that her huge undead bodyguard is him. Turning the conversation to her own loss, she tells the story of her only daughter, Myrcella, and how much she had loved her — only to have her taken from her, when Ellaria kissed her with the deadly Asshai’i poison, the Long Farewell, just before she was to return home from Dorne. As Ellaria chokes and struggles against her gag, Cersei coyly talks about the ways she had considered killing Ellaria or Tyene — the prettiest Sandsnake, and the one she presumes to be Ellaria’s favourite — as revenge. Ruling out Ser Gregor poetically crushing their skulls, which was deemed much too quick, she quickly ungags Tyene and gives her a kiss full on the lips, to Mama Sand’s horror. As she sinks to the floor, sobbing, Qyburn re-gags Tyene and hands Cersei the antidote. The queen, noting that Qyburn is the cleverest man she knows, confirms that they have found and used the same poison as revenge, and that it could take minutes, hours, days or weeks to kill — not that it matters, because Ellaria will spend the rest of her life here in this dungeon. Calmly and menacingly, Cersei informs her that they will force food down her throat and keep her alive down here indefinitely, and that she will watch her daughter die and watch her rot away. As she leaves, the mother and daughter pull at their restraints and try to embrace… but are just inches too far away to touch. The Queen’s Justice, indeed.
(Note: This scene is cool in many ways! For one, Cersei is near-mirroring the infamous death of Eddard Stark’s dad Rickard and brother Brandon at the hands of the Mad King Aerys Targaryen. Secondly, this scene ensures all the Sandsnakes died from their own favoured weapon: Nymeria by whip, Obara by spear and Tyene by poison. Finally, Indira Varma, who plays Ellaria Sand, confirmed that Cersei must keep her promise, because this is her last appearance on the show. Twisted!)
Oblivious to his sister’s actions, Jaime takes off his clunky gold hand in his bedroom (that’s how you know it’s party time) and drinks from a goblet of his wine. Cersei enters, thirsty from revenge and on a mission, and, despite Jaime’s protests, immediately begins macking on him… before bending the knee and macking on something else. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau butt shot. Yes! The morning after, nude Jaime is watching his nude sister sleep when she’s awoken by a knock on the door. Cautioning her not to answer it, Cersei flings on a robe and tells him that she don’t care no mo’ if anyone sees them like this; she’s the queen, she’ll do whatever she pleases. At the door, Bernadette the apparently-obsessive recurring handmaiden (rocking a matching Cersei-pixie haircut — she’s copied Cersei’s hair every season since the first) gives Jaime a weird look before announcing that a visitor has arrived from Braavos. Cersei plans to meet with him at once — and, to Jaime’s half-relief, half-dismay, advises her to change the sheets as well.
In the study, a now-dressed Cersei pours two glasses of wine, but her visitor, Tycho Nestoris, refuses. Offering his condolences for the death of her son Tommen, and a congratulations for becoming the first ruling queen of Westeros, he slyly alludes to knowing that the massacre wildfire explosion at the Sept of Baelor was more than just an accident — but Cersei wants to cut to the chase: the Iron Bank wants their gold back. He confirms this, and notes that the Lannisters are far in debt with the bank, they are broke, and their wealthiest allies are now foes. The Braavosi notes that the Iron Bank invests in prospects they deem likely, and Cersei convinces him that a Lannister win is the only outcome of this war — she drew first blood against the Dornish, and Lannisters always pay their debts; meanwhile, the once-lucrative slave trade has hit a decline due to the meddling of the other option, Daenerys Targaryen, and former slaves and Dothraki don’t typically pay back their dues. She offers Tycho a place to stay for the fortnight, and promises that when he returns to Braavos all their debts will be repaid. Smirking, he remarks that she is her father’s daughter.
In the words of Melissandre…Fire & Ice have finally come together! Well, sort of. Last week, Jon Snow sailed to Dragonstone to ask Daenerys Targaryen for help in the fight against the White Walkers. Daenerys expected Jon to come and bend the knee, not ask for help in some battle that sounds made up. In the tense throne room scene, neither leader was able to budge. Both are stubborn in their beliefs–which in many cases has proven to be valuable, but in this case, it’s setting them back. Forgive my wording…I know it will make some of you cringe…but these two are perfect together. And I’m not even really talking in the couple-y sense here. Dany & Jon, Fire & Ice (if old lady Meli got it right this time), could combine force, strength, courage, and wit…and just do it all. They could defeat the White Walkers, take the Iron Throne, and bring peace to Westeros.
I am being too optimistic here; at this point, the only reason they’re even talking is because Tyrion is mediating for them. He knows, just like Melissandre, that these two could work well together. At the end of our time in Dragonstone last week, Dany permits Jon to mine for dragonglass, even though it’s not clear whether or not she believes him. It’s very important that Dany made that compromise with Jon–she needs him and the North as an ally, because most of hers died last week. It’s also clear that Dany may already be developing a soft spot for Jon Snow…just from that last look she gave him. Next week, hopefully we’ll see the same thing happen with Jon.
Back to missing or dead allies, Theon probably should’ve died when he fled from his sister’s ship during Euron’s attack. How many times do you think Theon has wanted to just die, only to keep on living against his will? Still living, he was plucked from the sea by an unfamiliar ship. It’s safe to guess that no one will be too happy to see “the coward”.
As Archmaester Ebrose inspects the scarring of formerly greyscaled patient Ser Jorah Mormont, his apprentice Samwell Tarly watches nervously. Ebrose asks Jorah if it hurts, and he replies that it doesn’t hurt nearly as much as before. The Archmaester concludes that the disease is effectively in remission and remarks that it appears like he was treated in the exact way he forbade Sam to do. Jorah lies and says he just woke up feeling better, and thinks it was the rest and climate that cured his incurable deadly disease. A clearly doubtful Ebrose discharges Jorah as a patient and asks to see Sam in his study that evening. Jorah begins preparing to leave, and tells Sam that he is returning to be with Daenerys Targaryen. He owes his life to her and to Sam. Sam tells him that his father saved his life, so it was only right. Jorah hopes their paths cross again, and the pair shake hands, now that they can do so.
In his study, Ebrose scolds Sam, reminding him that he forbade him to treat Jorah because it is dangerous. He could’ve infected the entire Citadel. He then praises Sam for successfully completing the near-impossible procedure that almost all Maesters have failed. He tells Sam he should be proud, because Jorah is alive because of him. He takes Sam over to his reward: he needs to make a bunch of copies of mite-heavy old manuscripts. His reward is that he isn’t expelled from the Citadel. He still disobeyed orders after all.
Grey Worm and the Unsullied took on phase 2 of Daenerys’ and Tyrion’s plan to hurt Cersei by going to Casterly Rock. They knew that they were going to be at a disadvantage as the Lannisters would be able to see the attack coming. The Unsullied were going to continue no matter what, however Tyrion thought he had a great equalizer, knowing that he helped create the sewers and could send a team inside to open the gates to let the Unsullied inside.
Sadly, while Tyrion is playing checkers, his siblings are playing chess, the majority of the Lannister’s troops were elsewhere. Casterly Rock was abandoned outside of the small band of soldiers, that was there as a diversion for Euron Greyjoy to come in with his boats to burn and kill the Unsullied and destroy their ships. Grey Worm realizes that he and his small group of remaining men are in serious trouble, but is resolute in his hold on Casterly Rock.
Just after Greyworm realizes the trap that they’ve barreled into, we see the Lannister Army that should’ve been at Casterly Rock – led by Jaime, Bronn, and Sam’s father, Lord Tarly – marching upon Highgarden. It quickly turns into a bloodbath as the Lannisters sweep the castle and slaughter everyone. Olenna Tyrell, imprisoned in the comfort of her own room, is met by Jaime himself, where she asks if he’d gotten it all over with quickly. He tells her his men did, in fact, succeed, before approaching her table. She asks him if she’s to be taken to King’s Landing to be tortured, or if she is to be maimed in some way. Jaime responds that, while Cersei wanted to give her the most gruesome death she could imagine, he talked her out of it.
As he pours them each a glass of wine, he produces a vial of poison from his belt. After emptying it into her glass, she asks if there will be any pain involved, to which he assures that there won’t. She, with the biggest balls of anyone on this show, quickly downs her glass. The two converse for a few moments, Jaime listening intently as Olenna tells him how she would do virtually anything for her family. She tells him that she had done dark things, but that it was worth it to protect her loved ones, and that she doesn’t lose sleep at night. She compares it to Cersei’s actions, who had done unspeakable things for selfish reasons. As he’s listening, Olenna tells him she was shocked upon Joffery’s death…the way he looked, and reacted to the poison, well…it just wasn’t what she intended for him. Her words dawn on the former king’s Uncle-Father, and you can see the growing rage on his face. Olenna tells him that her last wish is that she wants Cersei to know…She wants the Queen to know who murdered her son at his wedding.
I think this is going to prove really interesting further into the story, considering we can see Jaime hesitate during certain points around Cersei; we can see him questioning whether he should still be by her side. Knowing now, that his brother, a man whom he adores and loves, is innocent of killing his children? That may be a complete game-changer for the man who murdered the Mad King.