A large number of my friends and fellow Game of Thrones viewers felt pretty lukewarm toward (most of) last night’s episode, “The Queen’s Justice.” Admittedly, aside from some narcissistic, sadistic wish fulfillment, there was mostly a whole lot of politicking, strategizing, and bickering. By and large, the third episode of the season was light on the action and heavy on the conversation. But—holy hells!—there was a lot packed into all that talking. So, let’s get to unpacking, shall we?
As always, now is your chance to skedaddle if you want to avoid spoilers.
A quick note to the showrunners before we dig into the rest of the episode: thanks so much for that clip of Jorah and Sam from last week. I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that is exactly what we all needed.
This week we saw a lot of hints about what might be coming, three dragons scaring the pants off of Northerners, two high-level overviews of battles, two reunions, two women getting revenge, two women imprisoned, one man released, one proposal accepted, one request granted, one tenuous alliance established, ¯and a partridge in a pear tree¯.
Some of the less immediately important developments this week happened in the Citadel, the Narrow Sea, and King’s Landing. Over in Oldtown, Ser Jorah is greyscale-free and is released from the Citadel’s infectious disease isolation ward; later, Sam adorably explains his method to the Archmaester who both congratulates and punishes him. In the Narrow Sea, some of the few Ironborn who managed to escape Euron’s attack interrupt Theon in the middle of his LARPing as jetsam. When he clarifies that his sister was captured, not killed, he ends up on the receiving end of some well-deserved judge-y stares. Seriously, those dudes look as though they would like to help him get back to his busy schedule of hanging onto flotsam for dear life. On the less dramatic side of the happenings in King’s Landing, Mycroft a representative from the Iron Bank of Braavos has come to collect the substantial debt owed the bank by the Lannisters—Cersei did convince—leaning pretty heavily on how the Iron Bank must be dealing with some setbacks after Daenerys destroyed the slave trade… EWW—the representative to stay a fortnight, at the end of which the Lannisters will have paid their debt, so… this isn’t likely to stay super low key for long.
Up at Winterfell, Sansa is running the show and is doing a pretty damned good job of it. Despite her proficiency in this new role, Baelish still feels the need to do his Machiavellian mansplaining shtick. Because Baelish. His mini-lecture is interrupted when someone announces that there is someone at the gate. It’s Bran and Meera! Yay!
Okay, only sort of yay: his new role as the Three-Eyed Raven has not done wonders for his social skills. Starting with his flat, deadpan greeting and continuing through his narration of her wedding to Ramsay Bolton to prove his point about the sight granted him by his being the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran is just creepy. Sansa has to interrupt him and walk away and I don’t blame her a bit—the kind of trauma she experienced that night and many nights afterward was intimate and being informed that there was another witness to that horror seems pretty additionally violative to me. So, you know—it’s a regular party at the Starks’ place.
Definitely more dramatic than a visit from a Braavosi banker, King’s Landing sees the return of Euron Greyjoy, with Yara Greyjoy and Ellaria and Tyene Sand bound and in tow. Euron continues to be a disgusting, generally human-shaped, pile of crap. He delivers Ellaria and Tyene to Cersei in the throne room and as his reward, Cersei basically accepts his marriage proposal. Well, contingent on his helping her win the war. So, you know, he’s probably going to die. I’m pretty sure Cersei would die before sharing her bed with any man but Jaime—oh, and speaking of: yeah, she’s totally not even trying to hide her relationship with Jaime anymore. She’s queen now and she doesn’t give a flying dragon fart who knows.
In a Bond villain-style monologue—with Ellaria and Tyene gagged and chained in the Red Keep’s dungeon—, Cersei admits to not sleeping well and to have spent those sleepless hours brainstorming ways to murder her enemies. Then she goes right ahead and shows the remaining Sand Snakes the fruits of all that brainstorming when she kisses Tyene. Ellaria immediately understands—Cersei just poisoned Tyene the way she had poisoned Myrcella. Cersei goes on to do the whole reveal and is extra expository about it all, asking Qyburn questions about the poison to which she already knows the answers. Then Cersei tells Ellaria that she will watch her daughter die and then, she will be kept alive, to watch Tyene’s body turn to “bone and dust.” Lovely.
Meanwhile, at Dragonstone, Jon and Davos have made landfall and Jon is reunited with Tyrion Lannister. The two men have not seen each other since the first season and their paths have taken some… interesting turns, obviously.
Okay, y’all. Jon’s “I’m not a Stark,” right before a dragon flies overhead…? Y’all. My R+L=J-believing, three-headed-dragon-theory-loving heart leapt up in my throat!
Of course, then things get a bit more serious once Jon Snow and Ser Davos are led into the throne room of Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen, Queen of the Elebenty Bajillion Titles. She demands he bend the knee and he pretty much gives her a hard “no” on that one. They argue for a bit and she declares him in open rebellion, until Varys interrupts with the bad news about the Greyjoys and the Sand Snakes. Tyrion does manage to convince Dany to let Jon Snow mine the dragonglass, pointing out that it’s really meaningless to her—she didn’t even know it was there—and could go a long way toward an alliance that is pretty desperately needed, in light of the shitstorm in the Narrow Sea.
Oh! And also this happened:
Ummm… well, isn’t that a fun little tidbit. Varys hates magic folks who would wield said magic, which would include Melisandre—mother of creepy, murderous, demonic, shadow-babies. So, he’s definitely feeling some sort of way about that interaction.
We get a brief overview of the ongoing military strategies: Tyrion narrates as the Unsullied infiltrate Casterly Rock and win. Grey Worm, though, knows it was too easy and that there should have been more men garrisoned at the castle. As he realizes that they’ve been caught in some sort of trap, he turns to see their ships being destroyed by Euron Greyjoy’s Iron Fleet. Then we cut to Jaime and Bronn leading the Lannister army as a variation on “The Rains of Castamere” theme plays in the background. The bulk of the Lannister forces left Casterly Rock—but not without first emptying the larders so that the Unsullied would have no supplies—to march on Highgarden. The Tyrell army falls rather quickly and we see Jaime make his way to Lady Olenna’s chambers. The Queen of Thorns is rather resigned to her fate at this point—after all, Cersei did literally burn Olenna’s last f*cks to give in the Sept of Balor that day—, though no less snarky or confrontational than usual, delivering some hard truths that Jaime is not ready to hear… including, after downing a glass of poisoned wine: