We’re over halfway through the series and we all needed a breather after last week’s eye-melter. But this is Game of Thrones and while Eastwatch doesn’t have any big battles it does have the same amount of plot as the first two series combined. So join us as we try to unpack it all.
Is it a bit soap opera? Oh hell yes. But we love every melodramatic, fan-serving, minute of it. We’ve got unexpected pregnancies, clandestine meetings, a cheeky bit of stalking, sibling shade, and enough reunions to power the next I Love the 90s tour.
To the surprise of precisely nobody, Jaime hasn’t died in the river, instead resurfacing with the aid of Bronn a convenient distance away. We joked about Super Bronn last week but this week he goes full Aquaman, somehow dragging a fully armoured man from the bottom of the lake. But hey, it’s Bronn, he harpooned a dragon and had enough time to quip about it, we can believe it.
Tyrion wanders through the battlefield, a quagmire of ash and death that used to be men, looking like he can’t even. On a slightly more serious note, it’s these quiet character moments that really show Peter Dinklage for the talent he is – he can emote more with one furrowed brow than we can with four bottles of wine.
Next, to the aftermath of the battle where Daenerys teeters ever closer to fully embracing her mad daddy, telling the shattered remnants of the Lannister forces “I’m not here to murder you but I am gonna murder you.” The Tarlys didn’t have time to decide who could find the fiercest reaction GIF before they were liquefied by Drogon for refusing to bend the knee. For those keeping track that makes Sam the head of his house, so watch his space.
Is this Dany’s Karstark moment (where Robb beheaded his treasonous bannerman back in series 3 kicking off a series of events leading to the Red Wedding)? Maybe not to that extent – but there’s no future where Dany’s brutal evisceration of her enemies by dragonfire isn’t propaganda’d to shit by Cersei.
Talking of Cersei, we’re then treated to a quick scene in King’s Landing where Jaime returns (somehow not being spotted by anyone) to tell her that they can’t possibly win the war and also Tyrion is innocent. Cersei continues to take the fake news approach to life: ignore the facts, do what you want, blame everyone else for it.
Bran has fully embraced the Matrix so his family have decided to just leave him under his tree. No matter however as he’s too busy spying on the Night’s King with his warged flock of poorly rendered ravens. There are lot of deados out there now shambling their way towards the Wall’s most-Easterly fortification, Eastwatch, and the Night’s King spooks Bran by shooting his ravens a perfect Zoolander.
Bran commands Maester Wolkan to send ravens to everyone asking for help. Meanwhile, Sansa continues to man-manage the Northern lords who, lacking a big bastard to war with, have debased into squabbling children. Sansa’s the first competent leader the North has had since, well, ever – so she handles it admirably, but not well enough for Arya who questions why they don’t just kill everyone who disagrees with them. She’s upset because she thinks Sansa is undermining Jon (ignoring the fact that Jon is Mr. Unity and Forgiveness in this universe and only killed megashit Alliser Thorne because he killed him first) and that Sansa’s only interested in the power… which may be true for Cersei-lite but it’s irksome that Arya’s biggest concern now is what Sansa’s up to. Kill list vengeance quest anyone? Her character motivations seem to have gone right out of the window.
Talking about windows, Arya decides to stalk Littlefinger through whatever opening may be nearest before Batman-ing away. She sees him shadily meeting shady people in shady hallways, including Maester Wolkan who gives him a letter scroll, and ninjas – sorry, Batmans – into his room to find the scroll hidden in his mattress. It’s the letter that Cersei forced Sansa to write after Joffrey took the throne in series one, meaning Arya now thinks Sansa plotted/sided with the Lannisters. She appears to take this at face value while Littlefinger goes peak Littlefinger and smiles while watching from the shadows; he’s been playing her all along.
Arya: terminator assassin, human lie detector, face-changing shadow spectre, can literally see in the dark, survives 7-inch dagger stabs to the abdomen, encounters her one weakness: the secret-keeping tricks of teenage girls.
The Old Man Committee of the Citadel receive Bran’s letter about the White Walkers and have a good laugh. Sam tries to convince them that it’s real but storms off when they only agree to think on it some more. Back at their house (?) Sam rants at Gilly about he wants to save the world while ignoring her as she casually reads out some genuinely world-changing information – Rhaegar (Dany’s bro, Jon’s dad) had his first marriage annulled and secretly remarried in Dorne, i.e. Jon isn’t a bastard at all and is in fact the legitimate Targaryen heir to the throne.
Sigh – get the whiteboards and markers out guys, this lineage and family-tree shit just got real.
Sam decides to indulge his burgeoning inner-kleptomaniac and raids the Citadel’s library before going full college drop-out and leaving Oldtown for good, presumably to head back North.
While it was hard not to full on GROAN following Gilly’s reveal (it’s just too fanfic-y for our liking, too neat and orderly) it was a clever way for the show to push that plotline along. Also, we assume this is the last we’ll see of Jim Broadbent as Maester Ebrose, so let’s all take a moment to pay our respects and thanks to the master.
Dany returns and Drogon (seemingly unbothered by the Scorpion bolt Bronn gave him, though we still suspect Qyburn may have poisoned them…) gives Jon a big old Targaryen sniff while Tyrion and Varys have a marketing meeting about how to rein Dany in from her “Bend the knee!” campaign. We also get our first big reunion of the episode with the return of Jorah – hooray! He has a quick hug with Dany and is introduced to Jon – i.e. Dany’s new fancyboy and the guy Jorah’s father loved so much that he spiritually adopted him, made him his heir, and give him him Jorah’s ancestral sword. Even when Jorah wins he loses.
The Dragon League receives Bran’s letter and puts a new plan into motion: they’re going to sneak north of the Wall, steal a wight (shambling undead demon) and bring it to Cersei to convince her to agree to an armistice so they can all focus on averting the icy apocalypse first instead. Er… okay? I mean, damn, talk about a change of direction. Jon says he’ll lead the expedition North and Jorah agrees to join – JESUS CHRIST JORAH YOU’VE BEEN BACK 10 SECONDS, THERE’S NO WAY OUT OF THE FRIENDZONE NOW SON JUST CHILL.
First however they need to get Cersei to agree and Davos says he’ll smuggle Tyrion into King’s Landing so he can meet with Jaime so Jaime can tell Cersei… we weren’t joking about the soap opera thing.
Despite King’s Landing being a stone’s throw away from Dragonstone, Davos and Tyrion arrive untroubled in a rowboat. Davos leaves Tyrion and searches for Fleabottom’s Home for Lost Children where he finds – OMG IT’S CHRISTIAN BALE. Oh no, wait, it’s Gendry – still yay!
“Thought you’d still be rowing,” Davos says with a hearty wink to literally everyone watching and he asks Gendry to join the cause. Fortunately he comes equipped a stonking huge Baratheon warhammer and a surprisingly optimistic outlook on life (for an abandoned orphan once used for sexy blood magic) and is immediately onboard (lol boat jokes).
So Gendry is Christian Bale i.e. Bruce Wayne, Arya is Batman, Ned and Robert wanted their children to get married… theory confirmed, they’re gonna bone and realise their fathers’ dreams. If it ain’t incestuous, it ain’t Game of Thrones.
Meanwhile, back in the dragon skull basement that the producers had already built and paid for and didn’t want to waste, Bronn brings an unsuspecting Jaime in to meet with Tyrion. Peter Dinklage and Nickolaj Coster-Waldau totally sell the pain and emotion of it all but it feels so sudden and rushed that it’s hard to not be blindsided by it (though speed and efficiency is what GoT is all about these days so maybe it’s time to just get over it? Goodbye dear pedant, you’ve been burdensome).
Cersei is busy talking to resident gremlin Qyburn when Jaime appears to tell her he secretly met up with Tyrion… though thanks to Qyburn’s army of devil-child spies she already knew. She agrees that they need to find time to plot and defeat Daenerys and seems surprisingly open to the plan. And then the big reveal: she’s pregnant with his baby! Oh Jaime, there’s really no saving you is there?
This is a big narrative development that caught everybody off-guard, particularly book-readers. The Witch’s prophecy (which opened series 5) promised that Cersei would become Queen, have three children, watch them all die, and be usurped by somebody younger. Well, we’re three quarters of the way there, but this pregnancy throws a spanner in the mystical works. Is this Cersei abandoning the shackles of fate? Is she actually having a squid baby? Is it a clear sign that she’ll soon die (possibly by stabbing her own prenatal foetus the way she’s escalating things)? Or is it evidence that she’s lying to keep Jaime keen? It’ll be interesting to see where this goes and it’s to the show’s credit that it can still, after all this time, catch us by surprise.
Finally, Tyrion meets up with Davos and Gendry back by the boat where they’re waylaid by two particularly moronic guards. Davos tries his best to bribe them away with gold and cock-crab but when that doesn’t work Gendry shows off the kind of strength rowing a bazillion miles gives you by pounding them both into the dirt with his hammer. This was a great scene from a comedy perspective (which is something this series has been particularly adept at) especially from the ever excellent Liam Cunningham. Can he do a consistent northern accent? Hell no, but Eastwatch is The Davos Show and it’s glorious; Davos is so too cool for school he doesn’t even care that his son was burned alive by fantasy napalm.
Davos brings Gendry to meet Jon in his dragonglass cave where they immediately bond over their fathers’ friendship. It’s a sweet scene and we have a lot of love for how much energy Joe Dempsie is bringing to his scenes – he even almost woke Kit Harington up! – but first of all, dude, never bond with Jon in a cave, and second of all, how awkward is it gonna be when they find out that Robert Baratheon killed Jon’s actual dad?
Following that the dream-team of Jon, Jorah, Gendry, and Davos is good to go but not before Jon and Dany have one more flirty moment (while Tyrion gives Jorah a slave coin because the one constant in the chaotic and dangerous world of Westeros is Jorah’s unending heartache.)
Final thought… Theon? Where you at?
These guys sail 3000 miles into the wintery apocalypse like it’s nothing. Meanwhile if we’re seeing some friends for a drink we need to Google Map four possible routes, pick the best, check Citymapper for the trains, pack a snack, eat the snack because we have no self-control, pack an umbrella and a coat, check the weather and unpack them, realise you live in London and re-pack everything including snow boots and suncream, and then leave just in time to be 20 minutes late.
Anyway, the dream-team arrive and are greeted by Tormund (reminder: Jon sent him to garrison Eastwatch in the series premiere) who introduces them to his prisoners: Beric; Thoros; and the Hound (yay). The collective beef here is incredible: Jorah, son of Jeor “Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch” Mormont, meeting Tormund of the Wildlings; Gendry meeting the guys who once sold him into slavery to die. It’s nicely representative of the biggest success/failure (succailure?) of series 7 that it cuts right through the baggage and gets straight to the heart of the issue – namely ranging north of the wall.
So North they go, the Magnificent Seven (minus Davos “All I’ve done is live to a ripe old age” Seaworth), to fight the enemy head on. This was a mostly cheerful episode overall, plenty of reunions and fan service, but this is Game of Thrones, it only gives the happy to make the sad that bit more devastating, leaving a cavernous hole of longing and misery where your soul once so foolishly lived, believing there was such thing as good in this bitter, cruel world. You might have fooled us the first 376 times, but never again!
It’s tempting to start a deadpool in this situation – who do you think is going to make it back? Jon has plot-armour and Gendry still has a role to play in the end-game, so we think that Beric, Thoros, and Jorah are definite goners, with possibly Tormund and the Hound too. All we know is that it’s going to be fucking epic.
P.S. If the wight that they find and bring back is Hodor we riot. Immediately.