Tag Archives: Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones: Winterfell – Review and Q&A

Since the conclusion of Game of Thrones’ seventh season in the summer of 2017, I’ve experienced recurring dreams about how the show will end. I swear I’m not saying that to sound cute, but because it genuinely intrigues me on a scientific level. I can’t explain what the dreams mean or why I keep having them, but I think it’s telling that they are all unsatisfactory experiences. In each one I begin watching the final season of the show with this itching sense of desperate anticipation, and I say to myself “Is this really happening? Is it finally here?”

Again, I have to stress that I’m not trying to be funny. Each dream ends with me disappointed at how the show turns out. It never happens the way I expected it to, and maybe that’s because I’ve been speculating on all the possibilities so much. So when I watched the season eight premiere last night, I was in a strangely surreal mood. Now it was finally here for real this time. And yet I still had the irrational feeling that something completely preposterous would happen and I’d wake up in my bed screaming “THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME!” while my balls leaked rivers of hot sweat over the sheets.

But let’s get to the episode itself, shall we?

Game of Thrones: Season Eight.

The Final Season.

“Winterfell”.

My overall impression of the episode is that it was good, but not electrifying. It didn’t feel as substantial as perhaps it should have, considering the important reunions and revelations. And I think this might be down to the way the pieces were put together, rather than the pieces themselves. I like every scene that happened, and I don’t think any time was wasted. But I did feel like these scenes were rushed and hastily put together. For instance, Jon’s reunion with Arya just felt a little underwhelming. The line about Valyrian steel seemed kind of odd to me, especially seeing as how Arya has her own Valyrian dagger, which she chose not to reveal. It didn’t seem to go anywhere, and Arya not mentioning it felt like the show saying “We ain’t got time for this”. I liked how it ended, with their discussion on loyalty, duty and family. However the whole scene felt rushed and slightly disjointed in comparison to some of the powerful dialogue scenes of previous seasons.

Another scene I thought a little clumsily written was the moment Samwell blurts out that he stole his father’s sword. This seemed like the show was trying to rush to the juicy revelation of his father’s and brother’s deaths instead of arriving at them organically. If it weren’t the final season, I think the writers would have handled that scene differently- perhaps with Jorah or someone saying “Nice sword” and then Samwell sheepishly confessing he stole it from his father, Lord Tarly. But, just as the Arya-Jon reunion was not without merit, so too this scene is saved at the end- in this case by John Bradley’s superb acting. So my criticisms are small ones, and each aspect of the episode I didn’t like seemed to be balanced out by something I did. At this point in the episode I began to feel a real momentum; we’re having to ask questions of our heroes. We see here that events have consequences, that deaths have meaning, and that no decision is easy. I think the next episode will focus on just how complex and fragile the allegiances of the north are, which will then create an effective tension leading into episode three’s Battle of Winterfell.

So that’s what I thought of the episode as a whole: kinda rushed and a little messy, but with a few excellent moments and some great promise for things going forward. But what are the key questions going forward? Here’s my episode Q & A:

 

Will Bronn assassinate Tyrion and/or Jaime?

This might just be a way to send Bronn north and have him join the rest of the characters considered heroes, since he is the last character on Cersei’s side that’s a fan favorite. Given that he risked his life to save Jaime getting incinerated by Drogon last season, I can’t see him murdering him so easily. As much as Bronn is motivated by material riches, the show has already established that he has a heart. I do think we will see a few popular characters do a few unpopular deeds this season though. And if Bronn is to be one of them, I don’t think it will be a straightforward affair. There will be some sort of twist that pushes him over the edge.

 

What’s next for Euron Greyjoy?

Euron is one of the characters I am most confident will die this season. Nothing about him suggests longevity. The fact that Yara has escaped and is heading back to the Iron Islands only makes me more certain that the Northern Armies will lose the Battle of Winterfell, since she mentions it as being a possible haven for Dany. I think the Night King will win, and Dany will take what remains of her army to the Iron Islands. I then think Euron will take his fleet there and get destroyed. The Night King will march on King’s Landing and almost destroy Cersei’s forces, but then Dany and Jon will come to the rescue. That’s my updated prediction for how the season goes down anyway. I can definitely see Euron dying at sea, and I can’t imagine that the Ironborn will be fighting as land units in defense of King’s Landing. That’s not what they are suited for. Euron’s fulfilled his wish of boning the Queen; I think the Iron Islands are more important to him.

 

What was my favorite scene?

In terms of pure spectacle, I loved the scene where the young Lord Umber is pinned to the wall and surrounded by a swirl of severed limbs. The moment he reanimated as a wight might be the biggest jump-scare in the show’s history. I liked it because it gives us a glimpse of the White Walkers’ culture. The Night King and his people aren’t mindless monsters like their undead thralls. The swirl is a recurring motif in the culture of the White Walkers. Having the little kid pinned to the wall, at the center of this design, not only shows that our threat is intelligent, but it also serves as a reminder of the way the White Walkers were created. A similar swirl can be seen surrounding the man that becomes the first White Walker in episode five of season six…

 

What will be the fallout from Jon learning his true heritage?

I think this conflict will dominate the next episode, but also be more or less resolved by the end of it. There might be some lingering tension that resurfaces at the end of the season, but I think the solution has already been foreshadowed. At first Dany will be very upset and neither she nor Jon will know what to do. But then I think that Tyrion and Varys will tell them their idea, and they will realize the solution is staring them right in the face. This whole situation is so obviously set up for them to get married. That way, they don’t have to worry about whose claim to the throne is more valid, and it solidifies the fragile alliances of the north.

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10 Predictions for Game of Thrones’ Final Season

It’s less than two weeks now until the final season of Game of Thrones and I can barely contain my excitement. As per usual, I’ll be doing my weekly episode reviews when the new season comes out. For now, here are some theories and predictions I have for how things will go down.

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  1. Jon Snow will ride Rhaegal in the battle with the Night King.
    This theory has been brewing for a while, and I think it’s easily the most likely one on my list. The ability of the Targaryans to ride and commune with dragons is shown to be somewhat intuitive. It’s in their blood. When Dany first rides Drogon in the fighting pits of Meereen, we can see that the whole process comes naturally to both her and the dragon. It’s instinctive, rather than trained. I expect that Jon’s true lineage will be revealed to him very early on in the season- my guess is the end of episode one. Since the battle with the Night King is all but confirmed to take place in episode 3, I think we’ll see him and Dany riding together for the first time in episode 2. This event was foreshadowed in the last season, when we see Jon petting Drogon. Dany seems a little shocked, and this indicates to us that she hasn’t seen anyone else interact with the dragons this way. It makes sense that Jon will ride Rhaegal, since the dragon is named for his father, Rhaegar.
    There’s also another theory that Bran will warg into a dragon. However I don’t think this will be necessary if the dragons already have riders. I can only see it happening if Jon disembarks Rhaegal to fight on the ground. It’s more likely, I think, that Bran will warg into Ghost or Nymeria during the battle.
  2. The Night King’s Target.
    We know almost nothing about the White Walkers and why they are moving south. It’s a mystery that’s simmered in the background of everything else since the show began. The only real clue we got regarding their motivations came in the season four episode “Oathbreaker” where we see Craster’s last son taken to The Land of Always Winter. The White Walkers perform a ritual that turns the baby into one of them. This hints to us that the White Walkers’ motivations may be related to survival. There are no female White Walkers, so they can’t reproduce on their own. They require human males, hence why Craster gave away all his sons in tribute. We also see in the season six episode “The Door” that the very first White Walker was created by The Children of the Forest for the purposes of fighting against the First Men. This also explains why there isn’t an army of White Walkers as such- the bulk of their forces are made up of undead humans and giants. The White Walkers themselves are fewer in number, since they don’t reproduce naturally, and each one has to be synthesized from a human baby each time.
    I expect that we’ll learn a little more about what motivates the Night King and his people in the coming season- but I don’t think there will be too much detail. I think that by and large, the White Walkers will remain somewhat mysterious, since it’s obvious now that the true antagonist of the show is Cersei. If the scenes shown in the recent trailer seemed a little samey to you, that’s because by and large they are taken from the first half of the upcoming season. Anything after episode 3 would hint at the outcome of the Battle of Winterfell. They’re saving the latter half of the season for the conclusion of the political conflict by the looks of things, perhaps because most people feel more invested in a human villain like Cersei than the Night King, whose machinations are treated more like an environmental threat.
    The Night King is extremely intelligent though- he’s not some Frankenstein-Monster. I don’t think we’ll hear him speak, even though we know that his people do possess a language of their own (Skroth). The biggest reason for this is that it’s best understood that you don’t want to still be giving exposition-dumps during the conclusion of your story. Since the White Walkers have remained mysterious and unknowable so far, I don’t see that changing much. However I hope we’re at least given some indication for the Night King’s motivations, because a mystery that’s never revealed is deeply unsatisfying. The actor who plays the Night King stated in a recent interview that his character has a specific target south of the wall. This is very interesting. To my mind, this target has to be Bran, given the latter’s unique prescient abilities. However this is a fairly obvious choice. I don’t see it being the Godswood, or anything else the show hasn’t already adapted from the books. It’s the end of the show, so there won’t be too much new exposition to confuse TV viewers.
  3. Cleganebowl.
    When I first heard this theory during season seven, I wasn’t sure. It sounded too much like fan-service to me, rather than nuanced writing. The concept seemed like a wish-fulfillment duel and the name “Cleganebowl” is nauseatingly memetic. However I now think a showdown between the Mountain and the Hound is actually quite likely. At the end of the last season, we see their respective storylines cross over for the first time since the show’s early days in a brief confrontation at the summit. The Hound seemed to pity the state of his zombified brother, and to me this scene foreshadows a kind of mercy-killing at the end of season eight.
  4. The Battle of Winterfell.
    I’m really interested to see how this one turns out. It’s no secret that in episode 3 we’re going to see the Night King’s forces lay siege to Winterfell. The cast have been pretty open about this, even going so far as to tease the sheer scale of the battle sequence. It’s meant to dwarf anything else on the show thus far, and is in no small part responsible for the show’s two-year hiatus. We know from trailer footage and cast interviews that the battle will take place at night, and will be somewhat akin to the Battle of Helm’s Deep in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. In the trailer we can see Varys hiding in the crypts of Winterfell along with other people who can’t fight. I don’t think they’ll be safe though. Even though the meek characters are more likely to survive than the warrior-types, I think that the White Walkers will definitely breech the walls and enter the castle. In fact, I’m leaning towards the outcome of the battle being a White Walker victory. If our heroes do win, I think they will suffer heavy losses in doing so. But from a narrative standpoint, I can see the outcome of the battle being largely a negative one. The best we can hope for is a Pyrrhic Victory or a stalemate…unless of course you’re rooting for the Night King. A big victory halfway through the season might feel out of place, whereas a setback allows for greater tension leading into the finale. I predict that the Night King will overwhelm the alliance forces, and Rhaegal will perish while facilitating their retreat south.
  5. Arya will kill Cersei while wearing Jaime’s face.
    I like this theory a lot. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Jaime dies during the Battle of Winterfell in episode 3. For a long time now, the show has had Jaime on a redemptive arc. When we first meet Jaime in season one, he’s smug, sarcastic, and cruel. A cocksure pretty-boy without honor. He’s set up as the opposite of Ned Stark. But as Jaime’s journey progresses, we learn that his asshole personality is actually a defense-mechanism that conceals his inner vulnerability. He resents his Kingslayer reputation, is tortured by his father’s disappointment in him, and is racked with guilt for throwing Bran out the tower window. He’s aware of everyone disrespecting him behind his back, so he’s reflexively cruel. His fighting skills at least ensure that people have to fake respect to his face. So the decision to take his only sense of agency from him- his sword-wielding hand- was an excellent decision, because it’s led to some really interesting character development. The peak of his catharsis came at the end of season seven, when he turned his back on the woman he loves in order to do what he thinks is right. Now, for the first time in his life, he’s following his principles instead of his orders.
    I think it’s highly likely that Jaime will die during the Battle of Winterfell. I think his whole journey has led him to this point, and that he will finally achieve his redemption by fighting for the living. Arya will then take his face and assassinate Cersei disguised as him, thereby fulfilling the Valonqar prophecy Cersei has been trying (and failing) to outrun since she was a child. For the longest time it was assumed Tyrion would be the one to kill Cersei. Not only does he have the biggest beef with her, but Valonqar translates to “little brother” in High Valyrian. However, Jaime could technically be the Valonqar since he was born holding on to Cersei’s foot- a curious and perhaps not insignificant detail from the books.
  6. Dany will have Jon’s baby.
    I don’t necessarily expect us to see this in the show, but I definitely think the season will end with Daenerys heavily pregnant. I feel like this one is pretty obvious, given all the foreshadowing in season seven. I don’t think they would have brought up the issue of her fertility if they weren’t planning on her and Jon having a kid. If we do see the child at all, I think it will be via some kind of dramatic C-Section where Dany dies and the baby is raised by Sansa.
  7. The Iron Throne will be destroyed.
    I don’t foresee an ending where Dany gets the throne she’s always wanted and restores Targaryan rule over the Seven Kingdoms. George R.R. Martin has already stated that the ending will be bittersweet. I think we’ll be left satisfied but in a very roundabout way. The Iron Throne represents lust for power. The melted swords are a reminder of the cost of both seeking and maintaining that power. I think it would be an effective piece of symbolic imagery to see the throne physically destroyed during a battle in the season finale. During her visit to the House of the Undying in season 2, Dany has a vision of the throne room in ruins, covered in ashes and snow. This could be the result of dragonfire or wildfire as Dany’s forces lay siege to the Red Keep.
  8. The Golden Company will betray Cersei.
    At first I wasn’t sure about this one. Even though the Golden Company are the descendants of Targaryans, they’re an off-shoot branch of rebels intent on laying claim to the Iron Throne. I don’t see any obvious reason for them siding with Dany, since they should be motivated more than anyone to kill her and install themselves as the true Targaryan dynasty. I think we will definitely see the Golden Company in battle with the forces of the North- but perhaps only briefly. If they do side with Dany, I think it will be in the form of some kind of political marriage that reunifies the two Targaryan branches. However that may not be that satisfying for a TV audience largely unfamiliar with all the history discussed in the books. But I do think the wider theory of the Golden Company somehow breaking their contract is a likely one.
    I expect that the themes of prophecy and fate will be prevalent this season. Maybe we will see most of the show’s prophecies and promises turned on their heads? For instance, Dany becoming pregnant and breaking the curse put upon her by that old bag in season one. The Iron Throne being destroyed- representing the “wheel” being broken. Perhaps Cersei’s baby will survive, and she will die happy knowing that the Valonqar prophecy didn’t fully come true? The Three Eyed Raven told Bran that “the ink is dry”. But is it? Maybe things aren’t set in stone. I can see why fans believe that a mercenary company whose motto is “Our word is gold” might be destined to break their contract. It could form part of a larger theme the show has about change and new beginnings.
  9. Who is most likely to die?
    In my opinion the most likely character to die is Beric Dondarrion. His fate is tied to his religious mission to stop the army of the dead. This will happen during the Battle of Winterfell.
    The only other characters I am 100% certain will die are Melisandre, Jon Snow, Euron Greyjoy, and Cersei Lannister.
  10. Who will survive?
    This is perhaps the toughest prediction to make. I think the most likely person to survive will be Samwell Tarly. I can see him recording the events of the entire series in his writings. I also think that Sansa will make it out alright. She’s pretty much survived everything, and I don’t see her being in too much direct danger. And even though Dany’s baby with Jon is just a theory at this point, I do think this baby will definitely survive.

 

What do y’all think? Let me know your predictions in the comments!

Game of Thrones Season Eight Q & A

I decided that in the wake of the Game of Thrones Season 7 finale I would do two posts- one being a review of the episode and the other a continuation of my Q & A format to cover the wider talking points. You can click here for the former and get my breakdown of the episode itself. In this post we will be discussing theories and predictions. Excited? Let’s get on with it then.

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  1. Will we have to wait until 2019 to see season eight?

The answer to this one is most likely. HBO hasn’t confirmed a delay, so nothing is official yet. What we do know is that they will start shooting season eight in October, about a month from now. Normally this would indicate that it is on schedule to be aired in the early summer. The problem, however, is that the final season will feature its most ambitious and complicated set pieces yet. Expect the scale to be massive in the way of special effects, extras, set design and the overall spectacle. We saw all the trouble they went through to create the Frozen Lake Battle in episode 6 this year. We know for certain that there will be two large battles that will surely dwarf anything the show has attempted before. With a long shooting schedule more than likely, the chances are that HBO will push back the show until Spring 2019 (probably around May). I don’t see them airing in the Fall where they will compete for viewership with The Walking Dead and football season. A lot is going into this final season to make it great, so they absolutely will want to get the maximum viewing figures possible.

  1. Why only 6 episodes?

The reason for season eight’s being 6 episodes long is simple. The story they have left is small but the scenes are much larger. Although only 6 episodes in length, it has been reported that the final season might have the longest run time of any season yet. In July, Paula Fairfield- who works as a sound designer for the show- confirmed that each episode will be “feature-length”. To my mind, this means that each episode will be at least 65-70 minutes long as opposed to the usual 50-55. And the final episode will more than likely be at least an hour and a half.

  1. What is Cersei’s plan?

We knew that Cersei would serve as the main antagonist until the end of the series and attempt to undercut Dany and Jon. Her plan now is to let the Dragonstone-Winterfell alliance weaken themselves against the White Walkers before facing off against the remaining forces with the Golden Company- an army of mercenaries from Essos.

  1. How is it likely to go down?

At the moment Cersei is weak and vastly outmatched. She knows this, which is why she is pretending to support Dany & Jon against the Night King. All she has at this point are the remnants of a battered Lannister army and the Iron Fleet. The Vale has already declared for the King in the North. What remains of the decimated Riverlands would be of no help to her, as they- like the Vale- have familial ties to the Starks. The Dornish hate the Lannisters and the Tyrells and the Baratheons have been destroyed. Therefore, the show will look to even the odds in the bloodiest way possible. We know from the Battle of the Blackwater, the Battle of Castle Black, and the Battle of the Bastards that they like to see an inferior army find a way to defeat a superior force. After all, if the odds are stacked so heavily in your favor then there is little tension to be had. And given that it is accepted now that Jon and Dany are the heroes of the show and Cersei the villain, I expect things to get shaken up early on in the season. Even with the Golden Company, Cersei is still outnumbered. So I think that either Team Dany will beat the Night King but suffer heavy losses, or they will in fact lose and escape with a skeleton force back south, bringing the war to Cersei’s doorstep. What remains to be seen is how aggressive Cersei will be in her strategy. She might want to fortify the south and wait, or she might strike at the Targaryens in the north whilst they are weak. Perhaps Team Dany will lose and we will see the Army of the Dead face off against the Golden Company in King’s Landing, only for Dany and a handful of main characters and soldiers to swoop in at the last minute?

  1. Who are the Golden Company?

The Golden Company are a private army of mercenaries who operate in Essos. They are the remnants of an offshoot from the Targaryens called House Blackfyre, founded by the bastard son of Aegon the Unworthy. The majority of the outfit is made up of Westerosi loyalists to House Blackfyre who fled with them to Essos with the intention of reconquering the Seven Kingdoms and ousting the Targaryens. In order to survive, they reinvented themselves as mercenaries for hire, often fighting the wars of the Free Cities. This allowed them to become wealthy and retain a fighting army, hoping to one day sail back to Westeros and claim the Iron Throne. The Golden Company participated in the Third, Fourth and Fifth Blackfyre Rebellions, being defeated in the last by a young Ser Barristan Selmy (below, left) and Brynden “Blackfish” Tully (below, right). Although the core of the Golden Company is composed of Westerosi Blackfyre exiles and their descendants, they have over the years incorporated other units into their ranks- such as Summer Islander archers and a number of war elephants. Their motto is “Our word is as good as gold” which I think is a nice touch by the Blackfyre marketing department, because it reinforces their reputation for having never broken a contract.

  1. What wildcard characters can we expect to pop up again?

We will definitely see Melisandre again and it will be interesting to see how her fate plays out. All we know is that she has traveled to Volantis (for reasons unknown) and that she intends to return to Westeros where she says she will meet her end. I definitely think she will meet up with Jon Snow and Dany somehow, as Melisandre’s interests are focused on the Prophecy of the Prince Who Was Promised. We could yet see some more Blood Magic before the show’s end.

Another character I expect to come back is Daario Naharis, who we last saw in season 6 after Dany left him behind. Even though he worked for the Second Sons, I have a sneaky feeling that he will return alongside the Golden Company. I definitely see him as a wildcard, either fighting against Dany for being left behind, or coming to her aid to help tip the balance.

  1. Is Bran the Night King?

This is an interesting theory that’s been gaining some traction on Reddit. We know that Bran’s powers as the Three-Eyed Raven are considerable and mysterious, and that to some extent he can affect the past. In season 6 we see him whisper to a young Hodor and thereby traumatize him with a vision of his own death. In the Tower of Joy scene we see Bran call out to his father, and the former Three-Eyed Raven’s worried expression. He warns Bran that if he spends too much time in the past, he will “drown” in it. There are a number of theories about Bran, and although they might seem ludicrous, they make for a fascinating discussion. It’s been suggested that Bran tries to alter history despite the Three-Eyed Raven telling him that the “ink is dry”, and that whatever action Bran takes will inadvertently lead to the same outcome. In short, the crux of the theory is that Bran tries to stop the creation of the White Walkers by warging into the body of the man who becomes the Night King (pictured below). It’s also been suggested in the show that the Night King was once a Stark of Winterfell, and so Bran could be inhabiting the body of his ancestor. However, the theory posits that Bran gets trapped inside the body of the Night King and that perhaps Jon will have to kill Bran to save Westeros. I’m not sure how much of this theory I believe, but it would fit George R. R. Martin’s statement that the end of the series will be “bittersweet”.

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One theory I do actually believe about Bran is that he tries to warn Aerys II about the White Walker threat, but the visions drive him mad, much as they did Hodor. He then misinterprets the words “burn them all” to mean that he should murder his own people, prompting Jaime to kill him. I don’t necessarily expect this to be revealed in the show but it’s a neat little idea.

  1. What is Jon Snow’s real name?

It was revealed in the last episode that Jon was born Aegon Targaryen and is therefore the legitimate son of Prince Rhaegar (Dany’s older brother). If that name sounds familiar, it’s because the name has been used frequently in the Targaryen dynasty. Aegon the Conqueror was the Targaryen that united six of the Seven Kingdoms way back when. Knowing that if anyone knew of his existence, he would be murdered, Ned promised his sister he would protect her son and sacrificed his reputation in doing so, claiming that the boy was his bastard son. I expect this to be revealed to Jon very early in season eight by Bran and Samwell, and that we will indeed see Jon ride the dragon that was named for his father.

  1. Can Dany have kids? Will she?

The fact that the show is bringing it up so much tells me that we will for sure see Dany enthusiastically seeded by her nephew. Perhaps we have already seen the babe’s conception with Dany and Jon’s vigorous sex scene at the end of the last episode. The issue is that Dany believes herself to be left barren by the witch’s curse in season one. However the same witch also said “only death can pay for life”. I think it’s entirely possible that the death of her dragon may allow her to become fertile again. I don’t necessarily think we will see the birth of this child on the show, but I want to go on record right now and say that I think she will become preggers by the end.

  1. Who will end up on the Iron Throne?

As I mentioned earlier, George R. R. Martin has said that the ending of the show will be bittersweet. This tells me that we can expect a satisfying ending mitigated by some heavy losses. I don’t think Cersei or the Night King will win, because a “satisfying” ending and a “surprising” ending are not the same thing. A plot twist that’s only shocking for the sake of shock is not good writing, and not what we mean by subverting the established workings of fiction. However I’d be surprised if Jon and Dany live happily ever after with a bunch of silver-haired rugrats playing tag in the courtyards of the Red Keep. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Iron Throne itself is destroyed, either in a battle that crumbles the Red Keep or by Dany’s commitment to “breaking the wheel”. I can’t help but feel that Dany won’t necessarily rule. Daario once told her that she was meant to be a conqueror and not a ruler. You might say, “Well who gives a shit what that knobhead Daario says?” and I would be inclined to agree with you. And yet, it seems apparent at this point that Dany’s purpose (and Jon’s) is to defeat the Night King and that is what the “Song of Ice and Fire” means. Perhaps she will abandon her quest for power for a chance at living quietly in peace with Jon? Perhaps they will both die and their son will be raised by Sansa, who will serve as Queen Regent? Perhaps each of the Seven Kingdoms will return to independence? Perhaps Bran will venture south to the Godswood, and call upon the ancient power of the Children of the Forest to sever the continent of Westeros in half at the Neck? How do you think it will end? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Game of Thrones: The Dragon and the Wolf

In “The Dragon and the Wolf” we got the longest episode of Game of Thrones to date, and to my mind, one of the most satisfying. It may not have had the great action sequences of Hardhome or the shocking twists of the Red Wedding- but what it lacked in the sensational it made up for in the emotional. We were treated to an episode of lengthy scenes with excellent dialogue, important revelations, and the conclusion of several nuanced character arcs. I’m drawn to the adjective “satisfying” for this episode, and I’ll explain what I mean. None of the events were too unexpected, but what made them so great is that they nonetheless made us feel tense and on edge. Did any of us really think that Cersei would cooperate? Or that Arya was out to murder her sister? No. I predicted Littlefinger’s demise in my episode 3 review, but I didn’t need the conclusion of his storyline to be a sensational twist in order to enjoy it. What’s important is how the show handled these arcs, and I think they were well crafted and satisfying in their emotional payoff.

The scene where Littlefinger is sentenced to death was made all the more powerful by the fact that Aiden Gillen is such a fantastic actor. The character of Petyr Baelish is one of my favorite characters on the show because he is so well-written and so well-portrayed, and I’m glad he met his end trying one of his schemes rather than gradually becoming less relevant and getting written out of the show- which could easily happen in a narrative as large and sprawling as this. Here we see a character whose very nature is forged out of lovesick passion. Everything that is important about Littlefinger comes from his deep-seated obsession for Catelyn Stark as a child- his ambition, his cunning, his every agency and advantage. It all stems from love. I know it’s a stretch to compare Littlefinger to Wuthering Heights’ Heathcliff- but here we similarly see a beaten down man who will seemingly move heaven and earth to get the acceptance and respect he wants. He can’t let his humiliation go and that’s what makes him such a tragic and sympathetic character. In season 1 he denies Ros’ offer of a threesome with a prostitute because he is trapped in the happy memories of his childhood, telling her “I’m saving myself for another”. And I find it so fitting that the same passion that drove him to become so powerful is the same thing which unmakes him; his obsession for Sansa blinds him to the fact that she’s playing him. One can imagine a story of the events entirely from Littlefinger’s point of view, and it would be a Greek Tragedy. I was very satisfied with the way they ended his storyline. He tried one last scheme and it failed. Seeing him cry made myself and a lot of other fans feel sorry for him, before remembering what he did to Ned in season one. Even though I like Ned more, I find Littlefinger so much more interesting. Ned did the standard, noble hero-thing by saying to Cersei “You think my life is some precious thing to me?” whereas Littlefinger crumpled to the floor, choking on the utterance of the name of the woman he loves, as he fights for breath. He’s a villain, but he’s a human villain, and the show was that much richer for having him in it.

Another character who fascinates me on this show is Jaime. He has all the instincts of an honorable man, and yet he has continued to adopt the persona of the cocky, backstabbing coward that the public has given him- until now. In the finale we got to see the breaking point which fans have long been looking forward to. I don’t think this event was particularly surprising, as we have been watching the erosion of that cocksure, amoral façade ever since Locke amputated his right hand. And of course Cersei was never going to honor any kind of deal. I feel like the series is shaping up into a more traditional good vs evil dynamic now, as Jaime follows the Hound and Tyrion in the abandonment of House Lannister. The scene where he walks away from Cersei was especially tense, and one of the many character-driven scenes in this episode. Earlier we see the Hound and Brienne burying the hatchet, which was such a great interaction because it showed just how far he’s come. In Sansa we see the culmination of everything she has been through and everything she has learned from Littlefinger about playing the Game of Thrones. And in perhaps my favorite scene this episode, we see just how far Theon has come and what a tragic character he is. It was easy to hate Theon when he sacked Winterfell, but now we see just what a toll his decisions and his guilt have taken on him. All Theon has ever wanted is to belong. He thought he was doing the right thing by siding with his father Balon in his invasion of the north, and he has been tortured by his decision ever since. Much like Jaime, he has undergone some horrific things that, while horrible, helped him gain perspective. The loss of Jaime’s hand was the best thing that could have happened to his character. They took away his primary mode of character agency- his swordsmanship- and by its removal allowed him to reevaluate himself as a person. He can no longer hide behind it, or allow it to define him. As for Theon, it’s a little different, but in a culture that values the machismo, the removal of his prick represents to him the peak of his failure. They didn’t chop it off just for a bit of meaningless torture-porn. His cock n’ bollocks have a greater, metaphorical meaning. At that point he can see nothing beyond what a disappointment he is. But that ended with this episode. Theon had one of his best ever moments when he refused to be weak and ineffectual any longer, and save the one person who has always believed in him.

In “The Dragon and the Wolf” we saw a return to the slower, more deliberate pace of seasons past as it looked to tie up loose ends and highlight all these character arcs, with its only rushed moment being the scene where Bran and Samwell discover the true extent of Jon’s heritage. However I liked how they intercut the flashback with Jon and Dany’s sex scene, because of the sense of history repeating itself. It was a revelation that we all knew, but so badly wanted to be discussed, and it sets it up nicely for next season. And finally we are left with the image of a reanimated Viserion melting the Wall with blue fire, which I think was pretty inevitable. But that didn’t detract from the spectacle of it, or the intended sense of dread with which we will be approaching the final season.

 

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What did you folks think about the episode? Let me know in the comments! If you enjoyed this piece and want to see more content like this, then please consider giving me a Like or Subscribe. Thanks for reading!

Game of Thrones: Beyond the Wall Q&A

Overall I liked this week’s episode. I wouldn’t call it my favorite, or the unqualified peak of the series, but it is undoubtedly the best episode of the season because of its narrower, sharper focus, its excellent dialogue, and the scale and spectacle of its ambitious battle scene. Here are ten questions and answers concerning this episode and what it means for the future!

 

  1. Is Arya going to kill Sansa?

No. I don’t think this will happen at all. The exchanges between Sansa and Arya in the last episode were very well-shot and made me feel a lot more tense and uncomfortable than I expected. But I still think this the natural result of them coming together in the wake of their respective experiences. They never really got along, and I think this conflict needs to happen for Stark “Wolfpack” to emerge as a strong unit.

  1. What is Littlefinger up to?

This is just Littlefinger’s way of surviving. He depends on making those in power depend on him. I know some fans are upset that this character’s relevance and agency seem to be dwindling, as he has had the greatest single effect on world events of any character in the series. However I still believe that Littlefinger will meet his end in the season finale. His aim is sow the seeds of doubt among the Stark children in order for Sansa to depend on his counsel. I think all will be revealed and he will be added to Arya’s creepy satchel of faces. However I will admit this does sound a little too straightforward and simple for a show that routinely surprises us, so I will be interested to see how they handle it.

  1. How the hell did Gendry make it back all that way, having never traveled these lands before? And how did Dany get there so quickly and know where to find them?

Usually I’m always banging the realism drum, and nothing makes me more irate than those people that say “Oh so you accept dragons and giants but having characters move around too quick is suddenly unrealistic?” and I’d like nothing better than to slap them across the chops with a disembodied whale fin and tell them that dragons and giants make sense within the context of the show. Every world establishes physical laws, much like our own. However I’ve been feeling more charitable of late. Simply put, having Gendry cover all that ground so quickly was the most convenient thing for the writers to do. I don’t think we should dwell on it too long. I’m fine with the amount of time it takes the raven to reach Dany and for her to fly north, because the passage of time is shown by having the Magnificent Seven sleep through the night. For me the most unbelievable bit was Dany being able to find them, but whatever- we’ll let the writers off the hook I think because other than that it was a good episode. It reminds me a lot of the show 24, and how realistically it is unfeasible for Jack Bauer to be getting as much done as he does in a 24-hour time frame. It’s one of those things you’re not meant to think about.

  1. Which dragon died?

Viserion, the one named for Dany’s brother Viserys. All of the dragons have different colors so you can identify them that way. Viserion has gold and cream colors, with orange along the line of his wings. In the books Viserion is referred to as “the white dragon” and is described as being the clumsiest hunter of three, but also the friendliest and most obedient. It was always going to be Viserion that died, because there is every indication that in season 8 we will see Jon ride a dragon- and of course it makes sense that he ride Rhaegal (the green one) who was named for his father.

  1. How did Viserion die so easily?

I think we have to assume that the Night King’s javelin is imbued with magic. Obviously there is no way it could match the speed and weight of the missiles from Qyburn’s Scorpion, and it appeared that Viserion died instantly upon it piercing his flesh. We know that the Night King is a wielder of powerful magic, and in Game of Thrones magic is something subtle, imprecise and mysterious. So my bet is that the frost spear is a magic one.

  1. What is Viserion now? Is he a wight? A white walker? Or an ice dragon?

He’s a wight. This is something I’ve seen fans arguing over and I’ve seen arguments put forth for all three possibilities. I do think we will see him breathe ice or blue flame, and I know that’s the kind of tiny detail that drives nerds insane and ruins friendships but the real reason will be that it’s simply the show’s way of distinguishing him from the other dragons when they meet up again. He can’t be an ice dragon because they are their own species. He can’t be a white walker because a white walker is strictly a member of a race known in the books as the Others. They’re not zombies, but they were previously human- or so the show is suggesting. Viserion is a wight. Yes, he has blue eyes, but so do the reanimated snow bears and giants- it’s just a neat detail to show that he is under the spell of the Night King. And yeah, shout out to all the nostalgic late-20-something neckbeards who came up with the “Blue Eyes WIGHT Dragon” meme; that made me laugh.

  1. Did the show cop-out with the Frozen Lake Battle?

It was a great scene and the special effects crew and everyone else at HBO who built that set in the frigid wilderness of Iceland deserve all the credit in the world. I was watching the video of how they made the lake by building a quarry and flattening it with cement. The lengths these people go to in order to entertain us is amazing. However, some fans have taken issue with the scriptwriters for not killing more of the Magnificent Seven. I see their point, and I was expecting their expedition to lose at least half of its members. I’m glad it didn’t because I love Tormund and Jorah and the Hound as characters. It’s interesting that the show left them alive, killing off only some redshirt wildlings and the red priest who’s constantly pissed as a fart. They are clearly saving them for the large set pieces to come in season 8. What is interesting is that they left Beric Dondarrion alive. I figured his mission was for certain to die getting that wight, but clearly the showrunners have something in mind for him. But what, exactly? Overall I’m satisfied with the episode because in keeping alive those characters, it did not therefore detract from the impact of losing Viserion. I don’t know about you folks, but the dragons mean so much more to me than any mere human.

  1. Will Cleganebowl happen?

I have to admit I used to laugh at this theory. I thought it was pure fantasy, but now I’ve changed my mind. It’s highly significant that at the end of the episode the Hound leaves with Dany on the boat that’s headed south, watching over the captive wight. For certain we will see the Hound and the Mountain cross paths, but as to whether they will fight? My answer now is anything can happen.

  1. What is going on between Jon and Dany?

It’s difficult in a show to introduce a romance between such prominent characters after many seasons, and it’s made all the more difficult to swallow when that romance is as incestuous as this one. So far I like how they have paced it. What they want to avoid is what the Walking Dead did with Rick and Michonne, where they had two of the main characters with no established chemistry whatsoever start making out, leaving the audience with the uncomfortable feeling that we were watching a brother and sister going at it after an evening of too much moonshine. Game of Thrones promises a much more literal incest with Jon and Dany, and yet it feels much easier to accept- at least for me. The dialogue between the characters has been well-written and they’ve avoided anything corny, and the acting has been good on the part of Kit and Emilia. In a season where everything is being uncharacteristically fast-paced, they have managed to craft a romance between the two heroes of the show that feels slow-burning and organic. There is palpable sexual tension between them and I was definitely rooting for them in that scene at the end. The problem of Jon being her nephew isn’t going to go away though. I think it is certain that Bran will tell Jon of his Targaryan heritage, and I think it will happen next season (or potentially at the end of next week’s episode if he gets back to Winterfell). So either we will see them start screwing anyway, as is Targaryan tradition, or it’ll be the Star Wars thing where they make out only to find out later that the person they spent 7 Minutes in Heaven with in the frat house closet was their MILF aunt.

  1. Finale predictions?

I still think the plan of capturing a wight was dumb. But here we are, and next episode we’re going to have for the first time a scene where practically every storyline crosses over. They have to negotiate a peace treaty, but it’s going to be strange because Cersei and Dany want each other dead and that isn’t going to change. I don’t see either of them budging in their desire to sit on the Iron Throne, so an alliance is out of the question. We know that the finale episode will be of an extended length, but the word is that we’ve already had our share of battles for the season, so I’m expecting a return to what makes the show great and that’s intrigue. There will definitely be some twists and there is no way both sides are going to march hand in hand up the Kingsroad to fight the army of the dead side by side. One interesting fact to remember is that Cersei is (apparently) up the stick now, and if that’s true, that changes everything. It means she will be less likely to want to see the world burn and she will be much more concerned with securing a safe future for her offspring. The direction she goes in is going to be very interesting, so keep an eye on her every movement!

 

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What do you think will happen in the finale? Did you enjoy this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments! If you enjoyed this post and want to see more content like this, please consider giving me a Like or Subscribe. Thanks for reading!

7 Answers to Game of Thrones: Eastwatch

This week’s Game of Thrones episode was packed to bursting with talking points, so I figured I would try a different format with this post in the shape of a Q & A. Let me know in the comments if you prefer this to my usual essay-based approach. Since there is so much to cover, I’ll draft up the questions I think you want answered so that we can get down to the important stuff, and avoid me summarizing what you’ve already seen. Alright then, let us begin!

 

  1. Why did this episode feel different?

 

If you felt this episode felt strange in some way- even a little contrived- then you’re not alone. In my opinion, this is the inevitable outcome of trying to conclude a show that prior to this season, seemed to be getting bigger and bigger with its amount of characters and plot threads. We are used to having all these separated storylines that typically narrowly miss each other, and only briefly overlap. The formula so far has been an uphill battle for our favorite characters, with a seemingly endless series of obstacles. But now the writers are faced with the task of having to tie up all these loose ends and shrink the scale of the show somewhat so as to focus on a satisfying climax. And with a show as complex as this one, it must be like looking at a bowl of spaghetti and trying to remove each individual noodle and lay them flat alongside each other. And so far I think the writers have done a good job. I liked last night’s episode, and even though the pace was way faster than we are used to, it’s a necessity at this point. It might be uncomfortable to see the characters traversing hundreds of miles in such a short amount of screen time, but the writers simply don’t have enough time to maintain the pace they’ve used in previous seasons. I liked it. It was a bit different, but the interesting scenes and narratives kept me interested.

 

  1. What is Littlefinger up to?

I like where the show is going with this. If you’re confused about the significance of his scene, the note he planted under his mattress was a letter Sansa was forced to write way back in season one. Basically, she was coerced by Cersei to denounce her father Ned as a traitor and to implore her brother Robb to bend the knee and recognize King Joffrey’s legitimacy. Here’s what the note says:

“Robb, I write to you with a heavy heart. Our good king Robert is dead, killed from wounds he took in a boar hunt. Father has been charged with treason. He conspired with Robert’s brothers against my beloved Joffrey and tried to steal his throne. The Lannisters are treating me very well and provide me with every comfort. I beg you: come to King’s Landing, swear fealty to King Joffrey and prevent any strife between the great houses of Lannister and Stark”

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You can see from the picture above that Littlefinger was in attendance when this took place. But why is he planting this note in his room? What does he stand to gain from all this? What we know about Littlefinger is that he wants 2 things: power and Sansa. I’m not sure to what extent Littlefinger knew that Ramsay was a psycho when he married her to him, but I do honestly believe that Littlefinger would never want her dead. By sowing discord among the Stark siblings, he is able to better his position. Arya, Bran and Jon are a threat to Littlefinger’s influence over the two houses of Stark and Arryn. And what he will ultimately be hoping for will be to exploit the weaknesses of the war-ravaged south through the power of the armies that Winterfell and the Eyrie command, probably by why of negotiating a marriage or two.

However I don’t think this will ever happen, and I fully expect Littlefinger to die in episode 7. What our main takeaway from this season will be, in my opinion, is the strength of the reunited Stark children.

 

  1. Why didn’t Randyll & Dickon bend the knee?

Honestly, I think it’s the show just tying up loose ends by killing off redundant characters. They’ve served their purpose, which was to swing the Battle of Highgarden in the Lannister’s favor. A battle against all the united armies of the Reach would have resulted in massive casualties for the Lannisters. And as I’ve said before, what we’re seeing at the moment is the show moving quickly to get to the important stuff. Giving Jaime the armies of House Tarly was an easy way for them to isolate Olenna, get rid of her storyline, and move on with the gold. As we know, the gold did in fact reach Kings Landing, so House Tarly have fulfilled their role in the plot. What little remained of their army has now bent the knee to Daenerys. It does seem silly to throw one’s life away for Cersei after just joining her side, but I think the show can justify it on the grounds that Randyll has a strong sense of pride and dignity, and liked the idea of not submitting. Sorry if that sounded like admiration, because it wasn’t- he’s a fucking asshole and I enjoyed seeing him charred. Hopefully now Sam will be made lord of House Tarly. I don’t necessarily think this will happen, but the rules of legitimacy and all that have been proven flexible before, so it ain’t impossible.

 

  1. Is Cersei really pregnant?

A good number of fans think that she is lying in order to keep Jaime in Kings Landing and presumably not lose faith. I think she’s telling the truth, but I don’t think that baby will ever be born. I’m backing Jaime to finish her off at some point in season 8 and add “Queenslayer” to his list of monikers.

 

  1. Why did Davos recruit Gendry?

It did seem a little contrived, especially with how easily Gendry was prepared to leave with him. I think the show just about gets away with it and I accept it because of what I mentioned above about the need to move things along quickly. I think Davos went and got him because he’s a helluva smith and they could use him up north to craft weapons of Dragonglass. I can’t help but feel the real reason he is back is the show’s way of telling us that they haven’t just forgotten about him. I don’t think he is going to serve any great purpose, and I do have a feeling he is going to die next episode. However I would love to see him reunited with Arya at Winterfell. Sadly, this isn’t a Shakespearean Rom-Com where everyone gets married off at the end. My money is on an ending more akin to Hamlet than Much Ado About Nothing.

 

  1. Who will die in the next episode?

I love this whole Golden State Warriors/Avengers style super team they’ve got set up for next episode. Episode six is confirmed to be 70 minutes in length and I’m sure as hell hyped up for it. I think it will predominantly feature the expedition north of the wall of this fellowship of GoT heavyweights. The reason for their going north doesn’t make sense in my opinion, but I’m willing to overlook it just because the chance to see all these characters together is too good to resist. I absolutely would not be surprised if everyone dies except for Jon Snow. As much as I love Jorah, I think he is certain to perish. I hope I’m wrong, but the way his farewell with Dany went, I think the end is nigh for him. Beric and Thoros will definitely die, that I’m sure of. What I can’t seem to make my mind up on is whether the Hound will join them or if Beric will transfer his ability to him before he eats it. I really don’t want to see Tormund die. He’s a great character and I’m rooting for his romance with Brienne more than any other potential coupling in the show. Sadly, I don’t think it will happen.

 

  1. Why is Sam’s storyline so important?

Sam might just be the narrator for The Song of Ice & Fire. Every time we see him this season he has unearthed some crucial piece of information. I’m not really sure where he is headed at this stage, and given how fast everyone is traveling, I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up at Winterfell by the end of the season. The latest revelation from his thread was Gilly’s casual reference to annulment, and how Prince Rhaegar once got a marriage annulled so that he could remarry straight away. This is basically confirmation that Jon Snow is not a bastard, that his rightful name is Jon Targaryan, and that technically he has a greater claim to the throne than his (screaming hot) aunt. I do think they will reveal his heritage at some point, and that they didn’t just slip this in for no reason. I expect the revelation to come either in the last episode of this season or early next season. A lot of fans seem convinced that we will see Jon ride a dragon at some point, and I’m starting to agree. There are just too many nods toward his true ancestry this season, and I think one dragon will get killed and that the other two will be ridden by Jon and Dany.

 

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Game of Thrones: The Spoils of War

I was late in watching this week’s Game of Thrones– or rather, everyone else was early. “The Spoils of War”, the fourth and latest episode in the series’ penultimate season, was leaked a couple days prior to airing by HBO’s network partner Star India. Fortunately, I didn’t encounter any spoilers, but I did see reactions from people who had seen it on social media, all of them proclaiming that this week’s episode was “insane”. The most I got in the way of foreknowledge of the episode’s events was confirmation of where certain characters would be. I was very excited. I was walking our puppy Adelaide when my roommate said to me “You know, I just have this gut feeling that this episode will be the best one yet”. So let’s jump right in.

I love what’s happening at Winterfell right now. Nothing too outrageous has happened, and like many viewers I’m wondering whether Littlefinger really does have a scheme in mind and that the show is teasing us, building up to a shocking reveal, or if the writers have run out of ideas for his character and are just having him aimlessly creeping around. A lot of fans seem frustrated that a character that always seemed to be one step ahead of everyone else appears to be losing his agency. But I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the point they’re trying to make; that he’s run out of schemes and he’ll try one last time to stay relevant and meet his demise in doing so. It can’t be denied at this point that his importance, both to the narrative and the in-universe politics, is waning. Events are proceeding faster than his ability to control them as the North prepares for the arrival of the White Walkers. Whilst I do actually think that Littlefinger is up to something, and not just treading water, I am convinced he’s going to die this season. Like I said in my Stormborn post, with so few episodes left of the show’s run, they will be tying up a lot of plot threads quickly so that in season eight the show will be able to focus on the White Walker threat. We’ve already seen the last of the Dornish storyline as well as the farewell of Olenna Tyrell. I think Littlefinger is next. I don’t necessarily think that it will go down this way in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series, but the show is a different beast at this point. Many fans of the book series are upset with the TV adaptation, and whilst I agree that the Dornish storyline and the Stannis storyline were poorly handled, I don’t have a problem with them changing some things. The books are so fit to bursting with a myriad of plot threads and characters that a faithful adaptation to the screen would be impossible. The story has to be streamlined for television and sometimes a tighter narrative is more effective. The books aren’t necessarily superior by virtue of coming first, or by virtue of being literary and not cinematic. For instance, I’m glad they didn’t include Lady Stoneheart. It would have been difficult not to make a zombified Catelyn Stark look silly on screen, and what with Jon Snow running around fit and healthy, too many resurrections are sure way to lose people’s interest. Anyway, I do think the show will get rid of Littlefinger, and I agree with most fans that it will be this season and that Arya will do it. I do like his character, but I’d rather see him go out doing what he does best (scheming) than gradually become less and less relevant to the point where we, the audience, don’t care anymore. He should make one last play, and it ought to be an attempt at an Aaron Rodgers-style Hail Mary.

The reason I said at the beginning of that last paragraph that I love what is brewing at Winterfell (despite the uncertainty around Littlefinger’s character) is that we are seeing the formation of what fans are referring to as the emergence of the Stark “Wolfpack”. In the books, all the Stark children are wargs and have wolf dreams. I don’t think that this will suddenly manifest in the show, but what we are seeing instead is the culmination of all their individual abilities. For Sansa, it’s her cunning and understanding of how politics works in the Seven Kingdoms. For Bran, it’s his use of the Greensight. For Jon, it’s his leadership qualities and the role he has in uniting different peoples against the Night King. And for Arya, it’s everything she learned with the Faceless Men. Last episode we got to see the best showcase yet of Arya’s fighting ability in her duel with Brienne. She more than matched Brienne’s skill, and let’s not forget this is the woman who beat the Hound, Jaime and Loras Tyrell…

The humor in Game of Thrones is still as sharp as it has ever been. We were treated to some interesting dialogue in this episode, and one character I’d like to give a shout-out to is Davos Seaworth (better known as The Onion Knight). He’s right up there with Yara Greyjoy as one of my favorite characters on the show, and one time a friend of mine even told me that I reminded him of Davos. It’s a great time to be a Davos fan at the moment, because he seems to be getting more cheerful with every episode. And in the last episode he was all kinds of sassy. He was even cheeky enough to say to Jon Snow “I’ve noticed you staring at her good heart”, which prompted my roommate to exclaim “YOU WHAT”. But for me the funniest bit of the episode was where Jaime intentionally addressed Lord Tarly’s son as “Rickon” for the second time this season. You could see in the man’s eyes that he knew that Jaime already knew his name, but he proudly corrected him anyway, saying “Dickon”, which made Bronn burst out laughing…which made ME burst out laughing. I know, it’s not the most clever joke, but my inner 13-year old got a kick out of it.

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No comment on this episode (I prefer to call it a comment rather than a review) would be complete without discussing the Loot Train Battle. It’s obviously the best scene of the episode, and the special effects team deserves all the credit they are now receiving for putting it together. It’s easily the most ambitious scene yet, and the show set a record for most stuntmen on fire (73) as well as having 20 people set on fire in a single shot. Sure, no important characters died, but as a sheer spectacle it’s the best battle yet. They’ve come a long way from the Battle of the Blackwater in season 2, which was able to achieve a lot by using low lighting and clever camera angles to make the set piece seem bigger than it was. I don’t think Jaime is dead. He’s either going to get taken prisoner by Dany or he’ll wash up somewhere downriver. I’m not certain about what will happen, but I am pretty sure he isn’t dead. A lot of fans are convinced that he has a big role to play in the end of the show, with some even speculating that it is he, and not Dany or Jon, who is the Prince that was Promised. I’ve even seen theories suggesting that he’s a Targaryan, and that actually it’s only Tyrion who is the trueborn son of Tywin. It certainly would explain his proclivity towards relentless inbreeding, but at this point I’m not buying it. As far as the Loot Train Battle’s significance to the greater narrative, I think it really only serves to level the playing field a bit after the swift loss of her Westerosi allies (the Martells, Tyrells, and Greyjoys) and the strategic defeat at Casterly Rock. She wasn’t able to stop the gold reaching Cersei, but she was able to destroy the Lannister’s food supplies, which will help with her plan to blockade King’s Landing. It will be interesting to see where the campaign goes at this point, given that Dany still has both the superior numbers and the superior fighters in her Dothraki horde. It was great to see them screaming on horseback, and you can tell the show definitely wanted to instill the terror of facing the fierce horseback warriors of history such as the Comanche and Cheyenne Native American tribes and the Mongol hordes, all of which are confirmed inspirations for the Dothraki. In season 1 King Robert said “Only a fool would meet the Dothraki in an open field” and this proved to be true. But despite Dany’s advantage in numbers, Cersei now has the gold she looted from the Tyrells, and it looks like we will be introduced to the Golden Company- the largest and most dependable mercenary organization in Essos. This fact, combined with the effectiveness of Qyburn’s siege weapons, means that a Dany victory is far from inevitable.