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

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).

At an impasse, they defer further discussion when Varys enters with an urgent message. Jon asks if he’s a prisoner; Daenerys says, “Not yet.” Varys has news that Euron’s fleet has destroyed Yara’s and taken her captive. Daenerys fumes, and wants to immediately go chase down Euron’s fleet with her dragons and burn the ships. This sounds like a good plan to me, but Tyrion argues her out of it, saying that she would have to ride a dragon to guide them, and it would be too dangerous – a single arrow from a ship and she could be killed. Honestly I think the risk of that would be quite low, but nevertheless Daenerys reluctantly agrees to sit on her hands for the time being.

Tyrion later talks to Jon and asks why he’s being so stubborn. Jon insists the White Walkers are real, that he’s seen them and fought them. Tyrion asks what Jon wants here from Dragonstone. Jon says that the island is built on a deposit of dragonglass, which is potent against White Walkers, and he wants to mine it to make weapons. Tyrion takes this request back to Daenerys, arguing that the dragonglass is worthless to them, and the fact that Jon wants it so badly would make it a powerful goodwill gesture, even if she doesn’t believe the White Walkers exist. She sees the sense in this and goes to Jon to make the offer to let his men mine the dragonglass. Jon is slightly surprised, but pleased.

And so it seems an uneasy alliance may be being forged here. It figures that it wouldn’t be smooth sailing, or else there’d be little tension and drama, so this all makes sense. Hopefully nothing will happen to make them fall apart.

At sea: Theon is hauled out of the sea, apparently by sailors loyal to Yara. They ask him what happened and he says he tried to stop Euron from capturing Yara. The sailors say that if he really tried, he’d be dead. They walk away in disgust, leaving Theon to ponder his circumstances.

This is a short scene. I wonder if it’s setting up Theon to take command in a bold fashion and lead the remains of the fleet in a bid to rescue Yara. It would be a big character moment for him to overcome his timidity and become confident again.

King’s Landing: Euron makes a triumphal march through the streets of the city on his horse, leading Yara and the Evil Sister-in-Law (whose name I finally manage to hear in this episode: Ellaria Sand) and her remaining daughter with ropes. The people of the city jeer and spit at the captives, and cheer Euron. In a brazen display, he rides his horse right into the throne room and up to Cersei, sitting on the Iron Throne. Euron presents his captives as the gift he promised a few episodes ago, and requests the right to an alliance cemented by marriage to the Queen. Cersei thanks him for the captives and says, “When the war is won.” Jaime looks on with a pondering look.

Ellaria and her daughter are chained in the dungeon, on opposite walls of a cell so they can’t quite reach one another. Cersei does one of her evil queen revenge speeches, upping the ante on the gloating she did over the Evil Nun. She talks about how her beloved daughter Myrcella was taken from her by Ellaria. She says she considered having Gregor “The Six Million Dollar Mountain” Clegane crush her head in the same way he crushed Oberyn’s, but she decided that wasn’t enough. She starts talking about how much she loved Myrcella, and imagines that Ellaria must love her own daughter too. Ellaria tries to speak but the gag in her mouth prevents her. Cersei approaches the daughter and… kisses her. Then she turns back to Ellaria and wipes off her lipstick… and suddenly her plan is clear. She’s using the same poison that Ellaria used to kill Myrcella. It took hours or even days to kill her. Cersei swallows the antidote and tells Ellaria to enjoy watching her daughter over the next while…

Later Jaime visits Cersei and she drags him into bed for some ultra-horny revenge sex. Afterwards a servant knocks on the door. Cersei goes to answer it and Jaime tells her nto to, because they have to keep their relationship secret. She says she’s the Queen now, she can do whatever the hell she wants. She opens the door to take the message that a representative of the Iron Bank of Braavos is here to see her.

The banker is here to call in the loans that the Lannisters have made. He makes veiled threats that if she doesn’t pay up, the Bank will have to seek more reliable investors to support, such as Daenerys. Cersei laughs and dismisses Daenerys as an upstart, a daughter of the Mad King, and does the Iron Bank really think that would make a good investment? Especially compared to the Lannisters, who always pay their debts. She promises the loan will be repaid in full within the fortnight.

Well, Cersei certainly seems to have taken to Evil Queening with relish. Her revenge is delicious, her abuse of power is superb, and her overconfidence is magnificent to behold. At this point I have no idea how she’s going to get the money to repay the Bank, but I’m sure it’s going to be entertaining. Heck, maybe she’ll just blow them up. And I really doubt Euron will get the wedding he’s hoping for, even if the war is won. More likely she’ll string him up in some amusing way.

Old Town: Sam seems to have done a good job on Jorah’s greyscale. Archmaester Slughorn inspects the man’s torso and declares him cured. He then says to Sam that it looks like somebody defied orders and treated him. Sam sheepishly admits he did it, and prepares for punishment. But Archmaester Slughorn praises his meticulous work, and says many Maesters would not have done as good a job. Sam now prepares for a reward, but Slughorn assigns him a punishment task: making copies of a big pile of old scrolls. Sam sighs.

I have a feeling that this is a kind of reward in disguise. These could be important scrolls containing plenty of learning that will increase Sam’s knowledge rapidly – and in the copying job he’ll naturally have to read them carefully. Sam’s career seems to be on the up. He’ll need to learn fast to be of any use in the remainder of the series. And Jorah is now free to return to Daenerys. That should be fun. Especially if Daario isn’t around.

Winterfell: Sansa stalks the battlements and balconies of Winterfell, issuing orders to stockpile grain for the winter ahead. She seems to be making competent decisions and executing her authority well in Jon’s absence. But she still has to deal with Petyr Baelish hanging around like a bad smell. He offers advice, telling her to always be prepared for every eventuality, so that she can never be taken by surprise. Good advice from the person who excels at weaseling his way into people’s confidence and then surprising them at the last opportune moment.

There’s a commotion at the gate and Sansa rushes over to see what it is. It’s either Bran or Arya arriving, surely! It turns out to be Bran. He and Sansa look at each other for a second, before she runs over to hug him. A bit later they are sitting alone by a weirwood tree out in the forest, catching up. Sansa says he’s the rightful Lord of Winterfell now. Bran says he’s not a lord of anything, he’s the Three-Eyed Raven. He says the Three-Eyed Raven told him a bunch of stuff, which confuses Sansa because Bran has used the same title to refer to himself and the former Raven. He says he’s changed, and he can see things, and he’s disturbed by them. For example, what happened to Sansa on the night of her wedding to Ramsay Bolton… Sansa looks at him in disgust and stalks off, clearly displeased to have such an awful subject be brought up by her younger brother. And fair enough. Bran is left sitting by the tree to contemplate.

Finally. The Starks are getting back together. Arya can’t be too far away from Winterfell by now either. All three surviving children together again will be very satisfying. Let’s hope nothing interferes with it. But what is Bran’s role now? Can he offer insights to Sansa that help her deal with the Winter? Hopefully.

Casterly Rock: This sequence begins back in Dragonstone, with Tyrion and Daenerys discussing their battle plans, following the devastation of losing Yara’s fleet. Daenerys fears what will happen if the Lannister army defends Casterly Rock successfully. Tyrion reassures her by describing the Rock in a voice-over with vision of the Unsullied and Dothraki army approaching the fortress. He begins by saying how well defended it is, and how disciplined and numerous the Lannister forces. He says laying siege and trying to scale the walls will be dangerous and many men will die – and we see images of Lannister archers killing hundreds of Unsullied and Dothraki as they attempt to climb the walls on siege ladders.

But this is just an illustration of Tyrion saying that that is the reason why they should not attack that way. He says that he helped Tywin build Casterly Rock, but that Tywin gave him the dirtiest, lowliest job he could – constructing the sewers. Tyrion says he built magnificent sewers, and included many secrete passages and doors for his own personal use in smuggling consorts in and out. If the Unsullied use the secret door he built, they can emerge from various buildings within the fortress unseen and open the gates from the inside. And with that knowledge, and the fact that the army is fighting for the person who freed them, compared to the Lannisters fighting for someone who is merely paying them, that is the reason her army will be victorious.

And in the vision we see the Lannister defenders being defeated easily. Grey Worm stands atop a battlement, surveying the dead Lannisters around him as he takes off his helmet. He comments to another soldier that the battle was too easy. The defending army was much too small… where have they gone?? And then he looks out to sea and sees Euron’s Iron Fleet attacking Daenerys’s ships.

So this is, I think, the first time we’ve seen Casterly Rock, despite it being mentioned so many times. Although Tyrion’s plan was a good one, and the Unsullied triumphed, they look to be in trouble with their fleet of ships. They might have to march back over land. And… it’s very mysterious at this point why the battle was so easy. Surely the Lannisters would have defended Casterly Rock to the last man? Where are the Lannister forces??

Highgarden: The scene changes to a different fortified city. In the fields around it is a vast army marching with the lion banners of the Lannisters. At the head of the army rides Jaime.

And suddenly it becomes clear. Highgarden. The Tyrells have plenty of money, and they need to be eliminated as an enemy now that Olenna has gone sour on Cersei. The Iron Bank will be repaid as promised. And it preserves the bulk of the Lannister army and strands the Unsullied and Dothraki out at Casterly Rock. Brilliant.

The battle is short and swiftly won by Jaime’s forces. He finds Olenna sitting in her room high in the keep tower. They share a few genial words as Jaime pours them both a goblet of wine. Olenna is very resigned to the fact that she’s lost and Cersei has won. But she warns Jaime that Cersei will never rest and to keep his wits about him. She asks how he’s going to kill her. He pours a vial of poison into her goblet. She asks if there will be any pain. He says no, he specially asked the Maester to make it painless. She raises her goblet and drinks.

After downing the wine, she says, “Oh, by the way, it was me who killed Joffrey. Make sure to tell Cersei.” Jaime is clearly taken aback, not expecting this parting shot. He gets up and stalks out, leaving Olenna to a faint smile as she contemplates her final moments.

Nice one, Olenna. It’s interesting that Jaime hadn’t suspected her already. This should confirm the fact that Tyrion had nothing to do with Joffrey’s death. That’s interesting, because now he might be emboldened in his defence of his brother against Cersei’s desire to see him dead. I wonder if he will tell Cersei, or if he’ll keep this news secret. Cersei’s reaction could be unpredictable. Denied her revenge of a magnitude similar to Ellaria, she might snap and do something rash. Wow, the war is picking up, and anything could happen next time!

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

  1. Lauri T. says:

    I have to say I’m a little ambivalent about the way the taking of Highgarden is depicted. From a purely narrative point of view, it works beautifully – Daenerys and her allies gaining one castle while losing another, much more crucial one, with no need for epic battle scenes – but I can’t escape the feeling that storming a major castle shouldn’t be so effortless. With Casterly Rock it’s justified by the castle being undermanned and Daenerys’s forces having the intel from Tyrion, but with Highgarden, it’s just handwaved away by Olenna lamenting that the Tyrells were never much good at fighting.

    Olenna’s final scene is just brilliant though. After Jaime assures her that she will die without pain, she eagerly gulps down the poisoned wine, knowing it’s the best deal she’s going to get – and then, when it’s too late for Jaime to do anything about it, the Queen of Thorns gets to give the Lannisters one last sting by revealing that she was the one who murdered Joffrey. I recall that there was some speculation online that maybe she’s not really dead since we don’t actually see her die, but it would be just atrocious writing to bring her back after a glorious exit like that.

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