Having found out that this week’s installation would also be an hour and twenty minutes – along with the rest of the episodes left in the season, more than a few viewers were content, given the few less episodes in this and the penultimate season. We begin with a moving and emotional montage of the living saying goodbye to the dead, those who fought for Winterfell and lost their lives.
Daenerys makes a subtle and well-constructed power play, by naming Gendry ‘Lord of Stormsend’. In doing this, she not only places power but also turns Gendry into a legal lawful son of Robert Baratheon, she makes him thus. As Tyrion puts it “A Lord of Stormsend who will be forever loyal to you.” This interaction and scheming doesn’t go unnoticed by Sansa Stark.. We’re seeing more and more of the manipulative and dare one say…. Courtly side of Daenerys Targaryen. Ever since Jon told her of his true name, his true heritage – she’s appearing to become obsessive about claiming the Iron Throne. Losing sight of her initial reasons for wanting to claim the Iron Throne, to end slavery and to eradicate mistreatment of any humans. To topple the tyrannical dictators off of their thrones and to have someone who really cared about the people to lay claim to it. But as the season is progressing our queen is slipping further and further away from this description. This coupled with her growing isolation and alienation from those at Winterfell, other than Jon she now has no close friends there anymore. Without Jorah Mormont, she’s becoming more distanced from those at Winterfell, including Jon.
An unnecessary scene: Jaimie takes Brienne’s virginity in what has to be a strike from left field, granted their relationship throughout the seasons has grown from one of captive and captor to true friends with mutual respect for one another and a bond. But the romance angle comes across to the viewer as forced.. (the plot direction not the intercourse itself, all consensual and above board*) But yes, to sum up in one word: unnecessary. Easily the only good thing to come out of it, is the many witticisms and ‘tall jokes’ that come out of Tyrion after finding out.
Confessions seems to be the theme of the episode, or at least the first half, Jon finally tells his sisters, or delegates the task of informing them of his true heritage to Bran. Before revealing this however, he makes them both swear that when they hear what he needs to tell them they won’t tell a soul.. Something that Sansa immediately reneging on her promise, informing Tyrion. The bigger surprise of the two however, which Sam portrays to Jon in the most endearingly awkward manner possible, he and Gilly are expecting. This follows a painful and tear-jerking goodbye between the pair. Bromance to go the distance.
Two big blows are dealt in this episode however, the first and most horrifying: the death of Rhaegal. After having witnessed the loss of Viserion I really didn’t plan on seeing her lose another to opposing forces. On top of Dany having to deal with this, the Golden Guard took Missandei captive – Dany and Greyworm plan to storm the city and eradicate her enemies. But, with this being the plan, she then has to content with Varys, him keeping his promise to her, involves his honesty when a moment arises, he reminds her: “I promised you I would look you in the eye and speak directly if I ever thought you were making a mistake. This is a mistake.” – he reminds her that if they attack King’s Landing with Drogon and the Unsullied and the Dothraki, tens of thousands of innocents will die. Cersei, knowing how to play her opponents, is bringing the public into the keep, anyone attacking will have to kill thousands of them before they reach their target. Surprising that the moral compass in this episode ends up embodied in Varys, but he holds strong, with what is most definitely the best line in the episode* telling her “These are the people you came here to protect. I beg you, your grace. Do not destroy the city you came to save. Do not become what you have always struggled to defeat.” This sentence, to a comic book nerd like myself was incredibly reminiscent of the old adage from The Joker in The Killing Joke : ‘You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.’