-SPOILERS! A written recap and list of thoughts of Season 7, Episode 3.
We follow up a fantastic episode two with a few significant deaths and a much advertised meeting between Jon and Dany.
The most significant piece of the episode is the arrival of Jon Snow and Ser Davos at Dragonstone, where Dany still sits waiting to enact her plan to take King’s Landing. It was Tyrion who summoned Jon, and the two of them exchange wise-ass remarks to each other in greeting, remembering their fellowship when Tyrion visited The Wall in the first season. It’s a kinship between two characters who have been placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to their immediate family: Jon as a bastard and Tyrion as a dwarf. Their meteoric rise with Jon as King in the North and Tyrion as Hand of the Queen leads to important respect between the two. In addition to meeting Tyrion, Jon and Davos are also greeted by Missandei and some Dothraki soldiers, and are escorted inside. During the long ascent into the castle up the beautiful stone staircase, Jon encounters the dragons for the first time, nearly having a panic attack with Tyrion saying that he’ll never really get used to them. Jon doesn’t have an extended interaction with the dragons, but if we are to believe the hints the show has given us and Jon is half Targaryen, it’s possible that Jon develops a relationship with one of them (maybe Rhaegal because of Rhaegar Targaryen being his father). The show has not been entirely clear on whether it’s the Targaryen lineage or blood that makes dragons more susceptible to training, but my guess is that Dany and Jon each will ride a dragon, and the third one, Viserion, will likely die from Qyburn’s weapon that he showed off in Episode 2.
Before the party gets inside to meet Daenerys, we see a small scene of Varys talking with Melisandre, who admits her mistake in choosing Stannis and her mistakes in advising him. Her development has made it seem that she has some serious regrets, and she plays to Varys’ fear of magic when she states that he, too, must die in Westeros. Varys is naturally distrustful of magic, both because of his past, and because of his trade in substantiated information. The uncertainty of magic seems to put him off. The reappearance of Melisandre does more than just connect Jon’s storyline to Dany’s, however. My speculation is that all of the Lord of Light tales, and the background of the Prince Who Was Promised story will somehow all culminate together with Jon/Dany/The Hound/Beric Dondarrion/Melisandre, etc. There’s been too much about it to just be a cult that gets secondary status. For some reason, this prophecy will fulfill itself, and maybe that’s also why Gendry is still in the cast listing.
What follows in Dany’s throne room is essentially a dick measuring contest. Dany remains slightly naive as to the politics inside Westeros, and just expects Jon to kneel and swear fealty to her, when Jon harbors resentment for when Dany’s father, The Mad King, burned his Uncle and Grandfather alive. Jon is unimpressed with Dany’s obsession with taking the Iron Throne, and essentially states that the battling between her and Cersei is petty squabbling compared to the upcoming Long Night/War with the White Walkers. Dany talks much about all she has fought through to regain a position of strength while in exile, while Jon refuses to brag about himself, but rather asks for her help as an equal, less as a Lord to her Queenship. While Dany understands that Jon is not trying to be disrespectful, she doesn’t really believe his warnings about the Walkers, and doesn’t want to allow him to keep the North an entirely free region. We’ll see how this plays out. The scene is cut short by Varys bringing the news about Yara, Theon, and Ellaria’s naval defeat at the hands of Euron Greyjoy. The line about Dany “ruling over a graveyard” is eerie, and we respect Jon for being so genuine with the Queen of Dragons. He may not be Ned’s son, but he is exactly like him.
Jon and Tyrion later discuss the problem: Jon must convince everyone that they face a threat powerful enough to wipe out the human race, and that the threat is a pack of wandering zombies. Even Tyrion, one of the brightest people in the show, has doubts about Jon’s story. Later, when Jon and Dany talk again, Tyrion has convinced her to allow Jon to mine the dragonglass beneath the castle. It’s of no use to them, but it’s an extension of an olive branch for Jon to latch onto. It helps build their rapport, and Dany has a very Ygritte-esque line to him, “get to work, Jon Snow.” In time, they will reach an alliance, especially considering that Dany continues losing these initial conflicts with Cersei.
One other line I absolutely loved is one Dany said that everyone loves what they’re good at (discussion Tyrion and his ability to talk). Jon’s response is very negative, because he really doesn’t like killing, even though he’s a hell of a warrior. Finally, when Dany talks to her counsel, they go over the plans for the Unsullied to take Casterly Rock and gain control of the Westerlands, also taking the traditional Lannister stronghold, mentioning a book subplot where Tyrion designed the sewer system with a secret passage to access. I’ll talk about the siege later.
There’s a throwaway scene just outside Dragonstone where we learn that Theon isn’t dead. He’s a coward, and I don’t particularly care where he goes. I’m a bit sick of his character.
In King’s Landing:
This segment starts with the first time I’ve really understood the fascination with Euron Greyjoy. As he parades his captives through the streets and waves at the crowd, we really begin to learn how shallow he is, and how much he’s in it for the fame. He may be fighting on the wrong side, but his ferocity mixed with showmanship finally came off as intimidating in this episode after the naval attack. Before, talking about how “murdering them would make me feel better” just felt unearned, but now, I understand why some fans of the show really like him. His talk with Jaime later in the episode about Cersei’s sexual tastes in order to enrage him was hysterical, and I finally buy into the Euron Greyjoy character. Cersei also understands he’s in it for the fame, and puts off their marriage pact.
We later see Cersei tend to her captives, deciding on the poison kiss for Tyene Sand, one of the Snakes, and to have Ellaria Sand watch her rot slowly after her death. This likely signifies the end of Ellaria, as well, as she is just a long-term prisoner who will eventually die. Cersei shows a rare bit of vulnerability here, deciding to really discuss how devastating her daughter Myrcella’s death was to her. In one fell swoop, Dany’s side has lost their Dornish presence, all three Sand Snakes gone and Ellaria Sand. With the Martell bloodline also finished, you can place Dorne into the territories where we’re unsure what their allegiance is now, like the Stormlands and Riverlands, also, with the Baratheons and Tullys all being killed.
When Jaime and Cersei “retire” together later, it’s the first time that their relationship seems normal. They wake up together and greet a guest together, not really caring about the public perception at this point. It’s pretty much certain that everyone knows, anyway, and they don’t care. Jaime, however, is a bit resistant, and his slow break away from Cersei should pay off in the upcoming episodes. There’s also a great scene of Cersei showing off a bit of political prowess, stating that they will pay off their debt to the Iron Bank and encourages the Braavosian visitor to invest in her as a stable monarch instead of Dany as a revolutionary. I have pretty complicated feelings about Cersei during this season. She’s shown a propensity for valuable leadership this season that hadn’t existed beyond her temper previously, and after rooting for her against the High Sparrow in Season 6, it’s been hard to completely turn off a slight rooting interest. She’s been through so much that the show actually has us sympathizing with her a little bit, and I actually felt more attached to her side of the story than Ellaria Sand’s, even though Ellaria is on Dany’s side. The show walks the grey line of these characters so often, and we’ve spent so much time with all of them that even Cersei’s side has become slightly appealing. She has the bank behind her, all of the Southern kingdoms, and appears to be less naive than Dany and Jon. Don’t be surprised if she continues winning.
Sansa has took the acting Queen of the North job very well, being involved in the decision-making about storing food and making armor warmer for their soldiers during the winter. Even Baelish is impressed, and gives her a once-a-week speech about keeping friends and enemies at a distance, playing battles in your head, etc. etc. etc. Baelish has become like her smug conscience who creeps around behind her, yet, we know he has a plan. My guess is that he’s waiting for the right moment to leak the info about Jon’s parentage. Just think about it, he waits for Jon to come back with an allegiance forged with a Targaryen, and Littlefinger is there to say “northern lords, it’s no wonder he sides with the Targaryen, he IS one!” Whether or not Sansa plays along with this remains to be seen after a few contentious moments with Jon this season. My other prediction is that Arya eventually is the one to eliminate Baelish, and covers up for any damage this could do to the Knight of the Vale by wearing his face around. We’ll see. There’s something about the assassin blade that keeps cropping up from season to season, and Arya should probably have it. I think Littlefinger currently does.
Bran then comes to Winterfell, and is greeted warmly by Sansa. However, he’s not the Bran that she knew, as the Three Eyed Raven abilities have kind of stripped him of any defining characteristics. He’s essentially just a blank slate of information currently, and he’s unable to really explain to Sansa what he’s gone through. His inability to socialize with her is also a problem, and leaves her slightly hurt when he says some weird shit to her. I thought this was the worst part of the episode, as explaining what he’s gone through wouldn’t be that complicated. “I started getting visions that led me to a sorcerer who can manipulate and see through time. I learned from him, but he died and passed the mantle onto me. I have all of these abilities but I’m not super good at using them yet, and I shouldn’t be Lord of Winterfell because I’m not really a Stark anymore, I’m the three-eyed raven.” Boom. Done. He instead just freaks her out like a total creep. Fuck Bran and his boring storyline.
The only reason he’s even in the show is so he can tell Jon about his parentage and probably have one episode at some point in the eighth season where they do a time warp segment again. My guess is that he tries to get into Dany or Jon’s head on top of a dragon and it also affects the Mad King through blood ancestry and Bran saying “burn them all” to them about the White Walkers corresponds to the Mad King’s dying words about “burn them all.” It’s also possible that he wargs inside the Mad King in order to orchestrate the killing of the Stark grandfather and older Uncle to ensure that Rhaegar isn’t killed before he has Jon as a child, thus fulfilling the Prince prophesy. Either way, yes, Bran is important, but I’m tired of him.
Sam is not really rewarded for curing Jorah, but he’s commended strongly by the Archmaester. Jorah seems to be fine, and is going to begin a trek East in order to rejoin Dany and her forces. Sam will stay at the Citadel, but I imagine not for much longer, as he’s presumably fulfilled his narrative purpose there. I doubt he dies, though, because he probably will be the one to record all of the show’s events into a book (maybe entitled “A Song of Fire and Ice?”). I don’t think it’s a coincidence that those gold magnifying glasses in the theme song belong to the Citadel. It’s as if it’s coming from a history book, maybe that Sam ends up writing.
In the Westerlands and the Reach:
Dany’s storyline picks up here, with Grey Worm and the Unsullied forces moving through Tyrion’s secret passage and taking Casterly Rock. They are met with skeleton forces of a few hundred, and easily take it, realizing they’ve been outfoxed and led into a trap. They may have the castle, but Euron Greyjoy’s forces are now stationed outside the castle, forcing them to do either eventually starve in the castle, or march West into a more massive Lannister force. By spreading their forces thin, it’s made their couple of losses really mean a lot to start this season. They lost the Greyjoy fleet, they likely lost the Dornish support, and now have alienated the Unsullied soldiers on the opposite side of the continent from the dragons and Dothraki, while Cersei remains strong and centralized in the middle. They may need a Dany flying dragonback passage through Euron’s fleet to burn away a good chunk of his men and force a retreat, but the council doesn’t want to put Dany at risk.
The rest of the Lannister forces that were supposed to be at Casterly Rock have instead taken Highgarden, the capital of the Reach and home to the Tyrells. With the help of Randyll Tarly, the Lannister forces have grown in size, and now have all of the Tyrell gold to pay back the bank, as the Tyrells recently passed the Lannisters as the continent’s richest family. In addition to gaining soldiers, food, money, and another territory, Jaime marches up to have one final showdown with Olenna Tyrell, a great character who has been a huge part of the show for multiple seasons. He gives her the option of a quick and painless poison death, which she accepts, and they have a conversation about Cersei. Olenna tells Jaime that she will be the death of him and that she is a monster, remarking that although she did a lot to protect her family, she would never dream of being as cruel as Cersei is. Rather than retort to Olenna, he allows her to continue talking, and she does, revealing that she was a major part of Joffrey’s poisoning. Jaime walks away with the new knowledge that it was Olenna, and she says as much “tell Cersei, it was me. I want her to know it was me.” Although she’s a great character, she goes out like a champ, and now we wait for two payoffs from this scene. The first is that it’s officially revealed that Jaime is using Joffrey’s Valyrian Steel sword, which is interesting, and the second is that Cersei will now likely know that Tyrion was never behind the poisoning, making the family relationship even more complicated. We always knew it was a combination of Littlefinger and Olenna, but it isn’t until three seasons later that other characters learn it. It’s great finale to a really good episode.
Episode Score: A