I know a lot of folks are getting frustrated, feeling that the pace is too slow and that there has not been enough action so far this season, but this episode has continued to set up dominoes… I have a feeling that something is going to hit those dominoes very soon.
*Caution: spoilers ahead!
The episode opens in Meereen, where Missandei sits with Grey Worm as he recovers from his wounds and Daenerys is mourning Ser Barristan. In her rage and her grief, Dany orders the capture of the leaders of each of Meereen’s Great Families – including Hizdhar zo Loraq, who has acted as her emissary with the Great Families and the Masters in other cities – and give them the opportunity to meet her children for dinner. And dine they do – or, at least, Rhaegal and Viserion do. As her dragons munch away on Great Family Leader Flambé, Dany wonders aloud about the guilt or innocence of the Great Families in the plot to massacre the Unsullied that took Ser Barristan from her.
Leaving her captives in suspense – the threat of feeding the leaders to her dragons hanging heavily over their heads , Dany seeks Missandei’s counsel in moving forward. Missandei reminds Daenerys that, sometimes, she does best when she disregards the advice she receives and, instead, follows a path only she can see. Dany does just that when she agrees to reopen the fighting pits and decides to marry Hizdhar zo Loraq.
Up on the Wall, Jon solicits Maester Aemon’s counsel about an action that he knows he must take that will be wildly unpopular among his sworn brothers. Maester Aemon gives Jon essentially the same advice that Missandei gave Dany: sometimes, a leader has to disregard the opinions of others and do what they know is right. So, Jon sits down with Tormund Giantsbane to work toward bringing the remaining Free Folk south of the Wall, knowing that if they do not, those Free Folk will be added to the White Walkers’ army of wights. Breaking the news of his plan to his brothers of the Night’s Watch goes every bit as poorly as Jon expects. Meanwhile, Stannis gives the order to march from the Wall to Winterfell, as delaying only tips the odds in the Bolton’s favor.
Just outside Winterfell, Brienne and Pod take up lodgings in the inn in winter town. Brienne sends word, by way of small folk and servants, to Sansa about how to communicate that she is in danger and needs help. That’s a pretty handy bit of information to have, since the rest of the time the episode spends in Winterfell is pretty much dedicated to reinforcing the fact that the Bolton’s are seriously twisted, sadistic assholes. To Sansa’s credit, having already suffered through a betrothal to Joffery, she takes the punches and powers through.
Finally, we join Tyrion and Jorah on their journey to Meereen. Jorah is taking the terrifying route through the ruins of Valyria on the Smoking Sea in order to avoid pirates taking Tyrion, the one “gift” that Jorah believes will ingratiate himself to his estranged queen. As they sail through the ruins, the two share a remembered poem about the Doom of Valyria and then HEY! It’s Drogon! While Tyrion and Jorah are busy being awestruck by the sight of a living dragon amid the ruins of the dragonlord’s homeland, the Stone Men ambush them. In the process of trying to fight them off, they lose the boat, Tyrion nearly drowns, and …Jorah’s contracted greyscale. Dun-dun-DUUUUUN!
What I Loved:
- Missandei and Grey Worm – in a relatively bleak world, their friendship and budding romance is a source of hope and light. Plus, they are just adorable together.
- Dany being A BOSS
- Stannis correcting the grammar of the Night’s Watch
- Ser Davos and Shireen’s interaction as they prepare to march on Winterfell
- Sansa’s smirk when she discovers one of Ramsay’s pressure points
- Tyrion’s face when he sees Drogon
What Could Have Been Better:
I really, really could have done without the father-son bonding over the story of how Ramsay was conceived by rape. Why did the writers even feel the need to include that scene? Did they think viewers were confused about the fact that the Bolton’s are among The Bad Guys™? I mean, we saw what Roose did to Catelyn and Robb; we saw what Ramsay did to Theon; their banner sports a flayed man FOR A REASON. I think we’re all pretty clear on the fact that these are not folks that you’d want to invite to your Labor Day barbeque; that scene was gross and unnecessary.
What I’m Looking Forward To:
I am really curious to see how Daenerys’ new plan for establishing peace in Meereen is going to play out as the season progresses. As much as I appreciated the break from King’s Landing this episode, I am looking forward to seeing how the capital is fairing in the face of the war Cersei is waging against her in-laws. And I am really anxious to see Arya as she continues to train in the House of Black and White.
“Who is innocent? Maybe all of you are, maybe none of you are. Maybe, I should let my dragons decide.” – Daenerys
“You will find little joy in your command, but, with luck, you will find the strength to do what needs to be done. Kill the boy, Jon Snow. Winter is almost upon us. Kill the boy, and let the man be born.” – Maester Aemon
“For eight-thousand years the Night’s Watch have sworn an oath to be the shield that that guards the realms of men. And for eight-thousand years we’ve fallen short of that oath. You belong to the realms of men. All of you.” – Jon Snow
“Fewer.” – Stannis Baratheon
“This isn’t a strange place. This is my home. It’s the people who are strange.” – Sansa
“Long, sullen silences and an occasional punch in the face: the Mormont Way.” – Tyrion