As we expected, the follow-up to the Battle of Winterfell was a relatively slow-burner, that still managed to produce a shock or two as we get close to finding out who will sit on the Iron Throne...
*WARNING : SPOILERS AHOY*
Saying Goodbye… Twice
We open with a massive funeral pyre about to be lit at the gates of Winterfell. There’s a quick roll-call of the big-name characters that met their end in the Great War, from Jorah to Lyanna, with Theon, Beric and Edd thrown in too.
Jon gives a big speech about remembering the names of the fallen - Dany is too wrapped up in grief over Jorah’s passing to pay much attention.
Sansa says goodbye to Theon in the best way she knows how - by pinning the Stark emblem on his chest. The pyres are lit, and the dead are waved off into the winter sky.
We’re also treated to a second set of goodbyes, when the armies of the North get ready to advance on King’s Landing. Jon, Tormund and Sam bid farewell, unsure as to when they will meet up again.
Jon asks Tormund to bring Ghost with him up north… giving us all sorts of feelings as the battered and injured direwolf looks on mournfully at his human leaving him behind.
The Funeral Feast
A few things happen at the feast after the funeral. Dany shows that she’s got some semblance of ruling nous by making Gendry, a hero of the Battle of Winterfell, the heir of House Baratheon and Lord of Storm’s End. She also reads the room during a toast and loudly proclaims Arya as the Hero of Winterfell.
Both acts seem to make the hall of lords and soldiers warm up to her a bit more. And yet…
Sansa still regards her immensely suspiciously. Jon and the free folk are being all chummy and buddy-buddy. Jaime, Tyrion, Brienne and Pod have a drinking game going on. What stands out is just how lonely Dany is, and how she is missing the love and admiration of the people in the room. She might have their respect, and definitely their fear. But their love?
It’s a bit too much for her, and she leaves, with Varys showing obvious concern.
Brienne & Jaime… and Cersei
What started out as a fun drinking game turns sour as Tyrion calls Brienne a virgin. She proceeds to storm out of there, encountering Tormund along the way (who gets brushed off) with Jaime following suit.
Later in the evening, the simmering sexual tension between Jaime and Brienne finally comes to a head, and the two finally get it on after teasing it for almost five seasons. Their bliss and happiness lasts for all of three days, when Jaime finds out that Cersei has managed to kill another dragon, and that King’s Landing is probably going to get toasted.
What ensues is Brienne’s first ever heartbreak, as Jaime utters a soul-destroying line while preparing to leave her and ride for King’s Landing.
"She’s hateful… And so am I." Brutal.
The Queen & The Would-Be King
We’re convinced now, more than ever, that Dany is wholly unsuited to reigning the Seven Kingdoms. She’s quick to her temper, gets rattled relatively easily, and demands obedience instead of inspiring loyalty.
Jon might be the slightly better candidate - if only because he’s slightly less prone to rushes of blood to the head. However, if there’s anything that shows how poorly suited these two are to the Iron Throne, it’s their bedroom scene after the Funeral Feast.
Dany begs Jon to not reveal his true heritage to the other Starks, saying that it’s the only way to keep the peace. Jon says that he would refuse anyone forcing him to make a bid for the Iron Throne.
What’s clear here isn’t that Dany wants to bring peace and prosperity to the Seven Kingdoms (as she repeatedly says throughout the show) - she’s after the power of her birthright; her destiny, as she puts it. As Varys mentions later on, it’s the language of tyrants. The Mad Queen rumours persist - is she truly her father’s daughter?
As for Jon, he refuses to accept the reality of his situation, somehow stuck in a cycle of impractical idealism that always manages to blow up in his face. He knows that no matter how many times he bends the knee, once word gets out of his Targaryen heritage, there will probably be another civil war. Which makes his next step all the more baffling.
The Last of the Starks
After a quick War Council meeting to discuss the remnants of their shattered army, Dany (in a fit of powerplay pique) commands that the remaining forces ride south. Sansa objects, but Jon intercedes and pledges loyalty to Dany (again). This pisses off Arya and Sansa enough that they drag Jon all the way out to the Godswood for a ‘word.’
Once more, Dany shows she just doesn’t have the Queenly touch - it’s all about obeying her commands and nothing else. Anyone would be able to tell that the army needs time to rest and recuperate, yet she takes Sansa’s objections as a personal attack instead of legitimate criticism of her half-arsed plan. The consequences are dire.
Jon gets grilled by his sisters in the Godswood, who remind him that it’s not that they don’t respect his vows - just that they don’t trust her. Jon is clearly uneasy at what’s going on, and is cornered by the both of them. He then chooses this moment to swear them to secrecy, and have Bran reveal his parentage.
Why, Jon? After being told in no uncertain terms that it would basically mean another war? WHY, JON?
Sansa makes it all of half a day before she tells Tyrion who Jon’s parents are. So much for secrets.
Rhaegal & Missandei
In a move that would surprise precisely no one by now, Euron Greyjoy is lying in wait for Dany, her dragons and the remainder of her fleet making a dash for Dragonstone. The consequences are tragic.
Three Scorpion spears later and Rhaegal is dead, taken out by the latest version of the diabolically-brilliant Qyburn’s dragon-killing weapons. If the dragons are likened to B-52 bombers (and we think they can be), Scorpions are SAM anti-aircraft defences.
This is a direct consequence of Dany not thinking her plan through earlier - she knows that the Iron Fleet is formidable under Euron’s command but goes ahead with this course of action anyway. With Dragonstone so close to King’s Landing, it wouldn’t take a genius to just wait for her to arrive, as Dany has shown absolutely no subtlety when it comes to her strategic thinking and tactics.
Rhaegal’s death was depressingly inevitable in hindsight. When will Dany learn?
In the same engagement that saw Rhaegal getting speared, Missandei was kidnapped, leaving the tatters of Dany’s army into requesting a parley with Cersei at the gates of King’s Landing.
It does not go well.
Tyrion and Qyburn meet up to exchange insincere pleasantries, before demanding that the opposing queen surrenders. Tyrion decides to stop playing games and heads straight for the gates, above which Missandei, Cersei, the Mountain, and any number of troops equipped with bows and Scorpions are perched.
He pleads directly to Cersei, asking her to consider her unborn child and how her surrender would ensure that both stay alive. After all, does she not love her children more than anything in the world?
Cersei, predictably, turns down the offer and asks Missandei to say her last words. "Dracarys!" Burn them all to the ground! It is the ground where her body and head end up next, as the Mountain cleaves her in twain.
The Last War is on.
- Gendry & Arya: Gendry proposes to Arya to make her Lady of Storm’s End. Arya says no, as that’s just not her. Poor Gendry - he got the ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ speech to boot.
- Arya & The Hound: This was an interesting conversation, not least of which was Arya’s statement that she does not expect to return to the North. Will she die in King’s Landing?
- Ser Bronn of the Blackwater: It seemed like he’d taken up Cersei’s contract to kill the Lannister brothers, with the promise of Riverrun as his reward. Tyrion reminds him of their pact to double any offer to kill him, offering Highgarden instead should his side win the war. Bronn accepts, and duly disappears. We wonder what will happen with our favourite mercenary / anti-hero as the Game of Thrones reaches its end.
- Ghost, Jon & Tormund: Would it have killed you to pet him at least ONCE before you left, Jon? REALLY? Our headcanon has him doing it off-camera and that it was probably too painful for Jon to say goodbye again. But come on, this isn’t just about you, Mr Warden of the North.
- Varys & Tyrion: The final word for this episode goes to our two advisors, who have cottoned on to the idea that Dany might not be a suitable Queen after all. Whereas Tyrion tries his best to not be too treasonous, Varys indicates that his loyalty is only to that of the Realm. Jon’s name is brought up, as is the acknowledgement that it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world finds out who he really is. We are left at an impasse, as both advisors keep their cards to their respective chests.
The highly-anticipated final season of 'Game Of Thrones' will be invading your TV screen starting 15 April and you get to watch it the same time as the United States on HBO (Astro Ch 411, 431).
Here's the best part: the episodes on demand will be uncensored!
If you're not a fan of the series but you're afraid of being left out when your friends discuss how awesome that week's episode is, you can actually catch past seasons of the series on Astro On Demand and Astro Go.