Game of Thrones, Season 7, Ep 3 “The Queen’s Justice”

5 April, 2019

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Dragonstone: A boat reaches shore and men step out. It’s Jon and Davos and a retinue of guards. Tyrion and Missandei and some Dothraki are there to meet them.

Tyrion: “The Bastard of Winterfell.”

Jon: “The Dwarf of Casterly Rock.”

Then they shake hands and reminisce about the last time they saw one another, atop The Wall (way back in season 1, episode 3). Missandei asks the visitors to hand over their weapons, which Jon agrees to, after a second of consideration. His guards are obviously not too happy about handing their swords over to the Dothraki who collect them.

As they set off to the keep, Davos asks Missandei where she’s from, as he can’t place her accent. She says she’s from Naath. Davos knows it’s a land of palm trees and sunshine, but has not visited it, alas – not yet. He comments to Jon that a lot has changed at Dragonstone since he was last here (with Stannis).

The scene cuts to Varys standing atop a high cliff overlooking the group, with Melisandre. He asks why she isn’t down there meeting Jon. She says they parted on unpleasant terms, and that she intends to leave and head back across the sea away from Westeros. Varys says in a very sinister way that that’s good, because if she ever returns to Westeros she could be in grave danger. She says, oh, she will return, because it’s her fate to die in Westeros, as is Varys’s. He looks slightly taken aback, as one does when a seer predicts one’s death.

The group down on the beach walks across a narrow fortified path spanning an isthmus between two parts of the island, with Tyrion and Jon filling each other in a bit about what they’ve been up to, although both their stories are too long to tell in full.

In the throne room, Daenerys asks Jon to bend the knee in loyalty to cement an alliance. Jon refuses, saying the threat from the White Walkers in the north is too great to spend time pledging his army to a war in the south. There’s also some discussion of oaths of loyalty – a Stark ancestor pledged allegiance to her ancestor “forever”. Jon counters that Daenerys’s father, the Mad King, was evil and betrayed everyone. Daenerys says people shouldn’t be held responsible for the actions of their ancestors – which she doesn’t realise resonates with Jon, because that’s exactly what he said when he pardoned the children of the disloyal Umbers and Karstarks and episode or two ago. Jon agrees, but still refuses to bow down, because of the threat to the north. Daenerys obviously doesn’t even believe him that White Walkers exist, and Tyrion is also sceptical (which we saw him say explicitly back in season 1).

Read the rest of this entry »

Game of Thrones, Season 7, Ep 2 “Stormborn”

29 March, 2019

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Dragonstone: A violent storm crashes over Dragonstone. Someone comments that it was in a storm such as this that Daenerys was born. Aha, that explains the “Daenerys Stormborn” title that people seem to use a lot. I always wondered about that, when her name is actually “Daenerys Targaryen”, why do people refer to her as “Stormborn”?

Anyway, Daenerys talks to Varys, questioning his loyalty, and why he served her father, then switched to supporting Robert Baratheon, and then the Lannisters, and now why should she trust him? He says that he serves the people of Westeros, always selecting the best course of action for them, and sometimes that involves shifting his support. However, he believes that Daenerys will treat the people with respect, having seen how she dealt with Slavers’ Bay, and so as long as Daenerys doesn’t change, he will serve her. Daenerys asks him to tell her if she ever fails to think of the people, and he agrees.

Melisandre arrives at Dragonstone. This is a bit of a surprise! I never would have picked this as a place she’d go. Although in hindsight this is where she began, advising Stannis, so at least she’s familiar with it. But I never would have thought she’d seek out Daenerys. But her she is, telling Daenerys that she thinks her and Jon Snow are the two big players in the current situation. Daenerys is surprised to see a red priestess on this side of the Narrow Sea – so I gather their cult/religion/whatever is much more prominent over on the Braavos/Pentos/Slavers’ Bay side. This is a detail I hadn’t picked up before. Anyway, Melisandre suggests that Daenerys seek an alliance with Jon Snow. Tyrion has met Jon (in the first few episodes of the series), and says he’s a good man, so Daenerys orders a message be sent to Winterfell to summon Jon, and ask him to bend the knee to her as Queen.

Daenerys assembles her council of war in the map room with the windows looking out on the raging storm. Present are her and her retinue, including Tyrion, Varys, Grey Worm, and Missandei, then Yara and Theon Greyjoy, Olenna Tyrell, and the Evil Sister-in-Law from Dorne and her three daughters. I just realised that she was the wife/lover of Prince Oberyn – so that would mean that the three daughters are also his daughters (unless there’s some other father somewhere). She suggests a huge attack with everything they have on King’s Landing – she would, she’s really only in this for revenge against the Lannisters. Tyrion however says that the people of King’s Landing need to support the armies coming to liberate them from the Lannister yoke, and they will look on an army of Dothraki and Unsullied as foreign invaders, and be more likely to resist them. So the attack on King’s Landing must be made only with Westerosi forces: The army of Dorne and Yara’s fleet. He says the Dothraki and Unsullied should mount a second attack on the Lannister heartland: Casterly Rock. Daenerys agrees and orders it so.

Read the rest of this entry »

Game of Thrones, Season 7, Ep 1 “Dragonstone”

24 March, 2019

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

The Twins: The episode opens with a cold open before the credits, which is unusual. It seems to be in the castle at The Twins, and… is that Walder Frey? I’m confused for a few seconds, because he’s dead, right? Then my wife whispers, “It’s Arya!” And yes, of course, suddenly this whole scene makes sense, as it continues to unfold with an ominous sense of inevitability.

“Walder” has called his men into the feast room for another feast. He explains that two feasts in a fortnight is unusually generous, but then he’s pleased with the recent successes of House Frey, helping the Lannisters capture Riverrun. He says he’s sharing a special wine, especially good, and encourages everyone to drink up as serving wenches distribute it. Walder’s wife is about to drink, but he says none for her, he’s not wasting good wine on women. She accepts this. Everyone drinks, but Walder himself doesn’t. Walder says how proud he is of his men, slaughtering the Starks at the Red Wedding. Killing the innocent unborn child of Robb Stark, and his wife and mother. The tone turns sarcastic, but the men in the hall are suddenly too preoccupied with choking and gagging as the poisoned wine takes effect.

Soon all the men are dead, and the Frey women are standing dumbfounded in shock. “Walder” rips off his mask to reveal Arya, who did a great job not only of the make-up but also imitating both Walder’s voice and his mean streak. Arya turns to Walder’s wife and says, “Tell everyone what happened here. Tell them: The North remembers.” Arya strides out of the hall full of dead Freys and their men.

Later, Arya is riding through a forested area when she comes across a group of soldiers singing around a campfire. They notice her as her horse whinnies, and invite her to join them for some rabbit. Arya says she doesn’t want to steal their food, and they say they’re offering it, so it’s not stealing. They are jovial and converse readily as Arya shares the food. They ask her where she’s going, and she says King’s Landing. They say that’s where they’ve come from, and are heading north on the Queen’s business. So these are Lannister soldiers. They ask why Arya is going to King’s Landing, and she says she’s going to kill the Queen. There’s a brief silence, before they all burst out laughing.

So it seems Arya isn’t just going to tick off the people on her list. She’s also going to take further vengeance against anyone who helped the marked people. And what will happen at this camp of Lannisters? They’re clearly enemies of the Starks, so perhaps she’ll kill them all as they sleep? Or will she be merciful? I wouldn’t count on it. The soldiers could easily attempt to take advantage of a young woman travelling alone, but Arya deliberately showed her sword as she sat down at the camp, so maybe they’ll think twice. I’m sure if they do try anything, Arya will kill the lot of them.

Read the rest of this entry »

Game of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 10 “The Winds of Winter”

22 March, 2019

It’s another season finale! Let’s track the body count again.

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Kings Landing: The day dawns bright and clear – the day of Cersei and Loras’s trials. The High Sparrow assembles a group of seven priests in the High Sept, seated in plain wooden chairs at the corners of the seven-pointed star on the floor representing the Seven Gods. Gathered to watch are Margaery, her father, and a crowd of people filling the space around the central chamber.

Cersei looks across King’s Landing from her window in the Red Keep, and dresses formally in black. Tommen dresses and puts on his crown. He prepares to leave his room to go over to the Sept, when his way is blocked by Gregor “The Six Million Dollar Mountain” Clegane. And it looks like Cersei isn’t leaving for the Sept either. All of this so far is accompanied by sombre string music and no dialogue. It’s a very different episode opening, as we have to follow events with visuals only.

Grand Maester Pycelle is in his room when a servant knocks on the door. Pycelle has been enjoying the company of a naked young lady, who he shoos away, saying he’ll pay her later. The messenger asks Pycelle to come see Qyburn. He reluctantly goes to visit the wannabe Maester, demanding to now what’s going on. Qyburn merely watches as a group of his street urchin spies emerge from the shadows, armed with knives… Uh oh. Pycelle meets his demise.

Body count: 1. As I was watching it, I felt this was a little bit of an odd time for this move by Qyburn. But things became clearer pretty quickly.

Read the rest of this entry »

Game of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 9 “Battle of the Bastards”

15 March, 2019

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Meereen: Daenerys and Tyrion take some time to discuss plans before they launch into battle to save the city from the bombardment of the Slave Masters’ fleet. This seems like a bit of a waste of time when urgent action is required, and feels like a stupidly slow start to the episode. I’d expected it to open with Daenerys riding Drogon through the air and blasting the ships with fire. But instead here we have them disagreeing with one another while the city burns around them.

Underscoring this, a window of the Pyramid throne room is shattered by a catapult blast, which finally spurs them into action!

Or does it? No, it spurs them to call for a meeting with the Slave Masters. Yawn…. what an anticlimax.

Three slave masters face off with Daenerys, Tyrion, Grey Worm, and Missandei on a neutral space, backed up by their respective guards. Daenerys says she wants to discuss terms of surrender. Very well, say the Masters, if you surrender Meereen to us, and all your servants, we’ll sell Grey Worm and Missandei to the highest bidders and let you go back to Westeros. Daenerys says, oh no… I’m here to discuss the terms of your surrender.

Hah ha! The Masters start laughing. They stop pretty quickly when Drogon appears, flying over them and landing behind Daenerys. She climbs on his back and takes off. Drogon’s calls spur the other two dragons to emerge from their underground cell and take to the air too. The three of them set about burning the slaver fleet.

Back at the parley area, the Masters are shocked. Grey Worm says to the Masters’ guards, “If you leave Meereen now, you can go home.” They immediately drop their weapons and run away. Missandei tells the Masters that Daenerys has ordered that one of them is to be executed, and that they are to choose which one. The Masters start cowering and looking at one another. One pushes another one forward and says kill him, he’s a foreigner anyway. The foreigner collapses to his knees, blubbering and pleading. Grey Worm walk up… and does an awesome double strike with his knife, cutting the throats of the two standing Masters. Tyrion walks up to the cowering Master and says, “Go home. Tell everyone what you’ve seen here today. Tell the other Masters this is what happens if you defy Daenerys.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Game of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 8 “No One”

12 March, 2019

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Random foresty place: Sandor “The Hound” Clegane tracks down a group of four men, sitting around a campfire. He lops the head off one with his axe, then makes short work of the others as well. I guess these are the ones who slaughtered the group he was working with.

A bit later on he comes across a group of the Brotherhood Without Banners, who have captured the leader of the slaughtering force and a couple of other men. They tell Sandor that these men were rebels and will now be hanged – in fact they’re just about to do it. One of the group is Beric, who we last saw back in Season 3. He and Sandor recognise one another. Sandor says the men killed his friends, and he claims the right to execute them. Beric says he can have one, but ups it to two when Sandor complains. Sandor wants to use his axe on them, but Beric insists they be hanged, not butchered. Sandor knocks the logs out from under two of the men and Beric’s men do the other.

Beric then asks Sandor where he’s going now, and suggests they join forces to go north and fight White Walkers. Beric seems to think the two of them are fated to work together, following their previous encounter. Okay, so Sandor now has a story ahead of him. It doesn’t seem too interesting yet, but no doubt it’ll intersect some other characters at some point.

Read the rest of this entry »

Game of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 7 “The Broken Man”

5 March, 2019

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Random grassy place: Unusually, the episode opens with a pre-credits scene. A group of people are building a structure from wooden logs. We see close ups of the sawing, hammering, pegging logs, and applying tar for waterproofing. Before the camera pulls back to show the surroundings, I think maybe they’re building a ship, and this is a scene from the Iron Islands, but later shots show that it could be the beginnings of a church, or a small tower of some sort, in an otherwise empty area of of a grassy valley fringed with rocky hills. No sea in sight. We see one man in particular, chopping the wood with a huge axe, showing close-ups of his hands, arms, legs, body… then the camera pans up and we see his face. It’s Sandor “The Hound” Clegane! Not dead as we thought! Roll opening credits…

The group building the structure seem to have a leader, an oldish man. He talks to Sandor as they take a breather from the construction work. We learn that he found Sandor, on the verge of death (after Arya left him to die, following his loss in the fight against Brienne), and nursed him back to health. The old man seems to be a priest or holy leader of the group of people. He tells Sandor it wasn’t his time to die, the gods were looking out for him. Sandor is cynical, saying he committed many crimes and if there were any gods they’d have struck him down by now. The old man takes this philosophically and tells Sandor that they must still have plans for him. Sandor is bemused, but his manner seems somewhat repentant – perhaps his brush with death has caused him to reflect on his life and change his outlook. The old man says it must have been some man who could best him in combat; Sandor says, “that man was a woman.”

Later, three riders approach and ask what the group are doing here. The old man says they’re just minding their own business. The riders ask if they have horses, the old man says no. Weapons? No. They ask for money, he says they have none. Frustrated, the riders leave. Sandor warns the man that they are from the Brotherhood Without Banners, and they will return to take whatever they want. But the old man is not concerned, saying they have nothing they could want.

Later, Sandor is off in the woods, chopping logs. He walks back to the construction site, to find everyone slaughtered. People are stabbed and dead all over the place, and the old man is hanging from the partially constructed tower. A look of grim determination comes over Sandor’s face, he picks up his huge axe, and stalks off.

Well, with Benjen and Edmure last episode, that’s three people we thought were dead returning. I suppose with so many characters killed, that’s not a resource we’ll run out of any time soon. It seems Sandor’s experiences have changed him, but the rage is still within him, and I expect he will exact horrible revenge on the men who slaughtered his new friends. Where he goes from there, who can say? Except that no doubt if he’s back in the story, he’ll have some significant role to play later. As the gods will.

Read the rest of this entry »

Game of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 6 “Blood of My Blood”

2 March, 2019

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

North of The Wall: Meera flees into the snow, dragging Bran on the sled. Hodor’s sacrifice in the last episode couldn’t keep the horde of undead from chasing them for long, and they’re much faster. Bran is still observing visions, and flashes through several scenes in quick succession. I see him falling from the tower after Jaime Lannister pushed him (back in the very first episode), his father Ned getting beheaded, and a scene which looks like it must be the Mad King in the Sept or Throne Room of King’s Landing, yelling something about “Burn them all!”, and then Jaime killing him. We’ve never seen this before, but it’s been described enough that I think I recognise the scene.

The white walkers are about to surround Meera and Bran, and the end must be near, when suddenly a cloaked man on a horse appears, brandishing a chained weapon with a wicked hook and a brazier of fire and not coals. He swings and sets fire to several of the undead, fending them off, as he pulls Meera and Bran onto his horse, before riding off into the forest.

In a place of relative safety, the rider lets them off, and Bran, now awake from his visions, asks who he is. The rider removes his cloak… it’s Benjen! Ned’s brother and Bran’s uncle, formerly of the Night’s Watch at Castle Black, who we’d been told was killed north of the Wall. Turned out he’s not as dead as we thought. He says the dryads saved him from being turned into a white walker. He also tells Bran that he – Bran – has to become the next Three-eyed Raven.(!)

Okay, what does that mean? Does Bran have to sit in a tree for the rest of his life, unable to move, like the previous Raven? Where is Benjen going to take them? Bran has lost Jojen and now Hodor as traveling companions. Meera wasn’t up to pulling Bran on his sled very far, so now they have a new companion who can take them further and faster. Bran’s position is nowhere near as perilous now as it seemed at the end of the previous episode, which is good.

Read the rest of this entry »

Game of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 5 “The Door”

26 February, 2019

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Mereen: Tyrion and Varys have a discussion with Grey Worm and Missandei. Tyrion asks how many people have died since they struck the deal with the masters of Astapor and Yunkai (last episode). Only two, and those on the same day, not long after the deal was made. Since then (several days ago, judging by their conversation), there has been no violence in Meereen. Tyrion declares his plan a success. But Grey Worm and Missandei are nervous, and someone suggests they need more support to reinforce the peace. Tyrion asks to meet one of the local priestesses.

A woman looking very similar to Melisandre, also dressed in red, appears before Tyrion and Varys in the audience chamber of the pyramid. Tyrion asks her for assistance in maintaining the current peace, and she kind of agrees. Varys doesn’t seem to trust her, but she looks at him and starts recounting graphically the scene when he was castrated as a boy. Varys is clearly unnerved by this display of clairvoyance. The priestess smugly leaves.

Okay, so Melisandre isn’t a one-off then. There must be some entire cult of priestesses of the Lord of Light who all dress in red and speak in cryptic riddles and vaguely threaten people. And it seems they all have their own agenda, so it remains to be seen if she’ll really help Tyrion and the others maintain their hold on Meereen.

Read the rest of this entry »

Game of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 4 “Book of the Stranger”

25 February, 2019

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

I always watch the opening credits sequence with interest. I like the music, and I noticed a big difference going from watching episodes on my iPad (via Foxtel Go, their on-demand app – which I could not find any easy way to stream to a TV) to watching on a TV from DVDs. The bass sound is of course much fuller from my home sound system, complete with subwoofer, than from iPad speakers. It really makes watching these episodes more of an experience.

Also, while watching the opening credits, I look with interest to see the various geographical places featured. I noticed Pyke, in the Iron Islands, appearing for this episode. And then I noticed a very odd thing. Normally, in my memory, the map looks flattish, or perhaps curved convexly like a globe, as it should. But in this episode I noticed quite forcefully that the map appeared to be concave, as if the world had been turned inside-out. I wonder if this is merely my memory and eyes playing tricks on me, or if this was indeed done deliberately, to sort of symbolically represent a change in the world order, and perhaps a significant redirection of the flow of events.

Castle Black: Oh. It looks like Jon didn’t simply walk out of the gates of Castle Black, never to return. In the opening shot we see a sword handle, and I think I recognise it as Jon’s sword, sitting on a table in a dim room. Someone comes up to the sword and picks it up carefully. For a moment I think Jon has also left his sword behind in Castle Black, and reflect on what a stupid idea that is – walking off into the snow without his sword. And indeed, as the camera backs away, we see that it is Edd holding the sword. Jon, you idiot!

But then the camera turns and we see Jon is there in the room as well. Either he’s changed his mind, or or walked off into the snow and then suddenly remembered he forgot to take his sword and came back for it. Dialogue clears things up, as Ed begs Jon to stay, saying they were at Hardhome together and saw the White Walkers, and they know they’re coming, and how can Jon leave them now? He swore an oath, to devote his life to the Night’s Watch. Jon points out that he already gave his life once for the night’s Watch. Now he’s back, and he feels no obligation to do it again.

Suddenly there’s a commotion and a call to open the fort gates. Outside are Sansa, Brienne, and Podrick! They walk in, through blowing snow. Jon emerges to see what’s happening, and he and Sansa recognise one another. After a moment of disbelief, he races down to hug her. The scene cuts to Sansa and Jon having some hot soup inside, presumably after they’ve told each other their stories of what’s happened over the intervening years. Sansa asks what Jon will do now, and he says he doesn’t know. Sansa has an idea! They can go retake Winterfell from the Boltons! Jon is reluctant, saying he’s been fighting ever since he left Winterfell and he’s sick of it. Sansa, showing a surprising amount of backbone, declares she’ll take Winterfell with or without Jon’s help.

Read the rest of this entry »