I enjoyed “The Queen’s Justice” a lot more than I did “Stormborn”, which felt was slow and a little sloppy. Last night’s episode was noticeably better for the following reasons- the dialogue was sharper and the plot was not only more engaging, but seemed to be building towards a more dramatic end to the episode. The pacing felt right. The scenes all seemed relevant and fitted together nicely. There was no sense of the narrative being disjointed, like a bunch of half-assed scenes arbitrarily stitched together. We started off on Dragonstone where we got the long awaited meeting of Daenerys and her nephew, after seven years of the actors filming on opposite ends of the continent. It must have felt to them like the meeting of Bender and Homer in the Futurama–Simpsons crossover episode. The characters of Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryan are viewed as the hero-figures of the saga and it’s been the assumption of most fans that once they cross paths it won’t be long before they start fucking like rabbits. There didn’t seem to be any hints that a romance was on the cards last night, with the early exchanges between them being icy and combative. I think that this is because ultimately we will see them become strong allies, but the writers don’t want everything to seem too convenient and easy. Even before the episode was over, the two were already warming up to each other, and I think Dany is starting to respect him. Another interesting point is that the show itself is confirming the longstanding belief that the “Song of Ice and Fire”, which is the title of the book saga upon which the show is based, is indeed a reference to Dany and Jon, whose partnership they seem to be setting up as the key to preventing the invasion of the White Walkers.
Another interesting takeaway from this episode is the continued successes of Cersei in a war that, at the start of the season, seemed very lopsided. For those confused about why Cersei sent the bulk of her army to sack Highgarden, I think I have the answer. Earlier in the episode Cersei got a visit from a member of the Iron Bank of Braavos, to whom the crown is in debt. The decision to attack Highgarden was not about destroying the Tyrell army or punishing Lady Olenna for her support of Dany’s claim. What Cersei really has her eyes on are the gold reserves of the Reach’s capital. With this money she will be able to pay off the Iron Bank, who in turn will continue to invest in the crown. Cersei’s strategy is reflective of the way Lannisters think, in particular her late father. “Wars are won with gold” she says. She does not make decisions based on passion like the Martells, or honor like the Starks. The Lannister House is known within the fictional history of Westeros as being a house of shrewd merchants and tricksters, who rely on their cunning to get ahead. It will be interesting to see if the gold makes it back to Kings Landing or not, and what the consequences of its arrival or its loss might mean for Cersei. It makes for good speculation, as we know that this season will see a large battle that looks like it is going to take place in the Reach. The full strength of Dany’s dragons and her Dothraki horde would be enough to decisively take out Jaime’s army and leave Cersei completely isolated, with no hope of rescue. It must also be remembered that there are only four episodes left this season, and that season 8 (the final season) will consist of only 6 episodes (though its total run-time may in fact be the longest season yet, due to the large set pieces and longer scenes). The threat of the White Walkers, although getting closer in the world of the show, still feels an arm’s length away. The White Walkers are still a mysterious race and we don’t know exactly what they want; they are not monsters- they seem more to me like twisted snow elves. At some point before the show’s end, they’re going to have to conclusively and satisfactorily bring an end to the White Walker storyline- either through their destruction or the necessary apocalypse of their victory. At the moment I don’t see how they can take both the war in the north and the war in the south to the final episode of season 8 simultaneously. It’s heavily implied that to bring an end to the White Walker threat we need Jon and Dany to work together. Ice and Fire. And they can’t do that with Cersei still at war with them.
To conclude, I appreciated the longer and more detailed scenes of this episode, such as with Jon meeting Dany and with the return of Euron to Kings Landing. The dialogue was much less contrived than the week before, and there were some funny lines too; the ones that stand out being Olenna calling Joffrey a “cunt” and Euron asking Jaime if Cersei enjoyed a good finger up the bum now and then. I still don’t think it is vintage Thrones yet; the penultimate season has proceeded adequately but given the hype attached to the show’s concluding episodes, it just seems to fall short of the show’s peak, which to my mind was season four.
What was the best scene?
I think the Unsullied attack on Casterly Rock was very well done. It didn’t outstay its welcome, and it provided a cool battle scene that was able to be thrilling whilst not dominating the screen time. I liked the way they intercut the battle with Tyrion’s narration, and the way it played on our nerves. Plus, there’s nothing sweeter than seeing Grey Worm and his fellow super soldiers annihilate the smug Lannister scum.
What was the worst scene?
For me there was no stand-out scene this week that seemed to drag the episode down. If I had to pick one, I’d pick the scene where Bran creepily informs his sister that he saw her get raped, but only because it left my roommates and I frustrated that Bran wasn’t explaining himself better.
What do I think will happen in the next episode?
I think we might just be seeing the beginning of the end of Littlefinger. For some reason I can’t help but like him. I just think he is a really well-written and compelling character. I love that his entire lust for power comes from his unbridled passion for Catelyn Stark and his emasculation at the hands of Brandon Stark as a teenager. He is the most passionate character in the show, because his feelings for Catelyn and Sansa are all-consuming obsessions. But I think the show will look to tie up his storyline this season so that they can concentrate on the White Walker threat next season. Even though you could argue that Littlefinger has the most agency of any character, with his schemes basically causing the events of the whole series, I just think there is little left for him to contribute. As interesting as it would be to see him win the Game of Thrones, I think he will try one more scheme, get caught out by Sansa, and executed. I think either Bran will expose his treacheries or Sansa will read Winterfell’s records, which I know some fans are speculating will reveal something about his complicity in knowing Ramsay was a psycho.
What do I hope will happen this season?
I’m really hoping that Yara will escape somehow, or survive. I definitely think a Theon redemption is on the cards. I’m not certain how he will redeem himself but I think he will. It’s a long shot, but perhaps he and the remaining Ironborn will form a Navy Seal strike team and try and sneak into the Red Keep and free Yara, in a parallel of the mission Yara led to free Theon from the Dreadfort.