Whew! What a week, huh y’all? So crazy that our pal and fellow writer Jim had to bow out because he just couldn’t handle the intensity. Just kidding, he’s off on the film festival circuit, (can we call it that?) supporting his short horror film The Head. Check it out if you have the chance!
Since he’s abandoned us, Es and I will be doing less of a round table and more of an across the table; it’s an A and B conversation, that we’d like you to C your way into, so join us, after the jump…
Lacey: We open on Bronn goading Jaime about his sour mood, asking if The Queen of Thorns got one more barb in his balls before she died. Yes, Bronn, you perceptive sellsword, that’s exactly what’s got the Kingslayer’s knickers in a twist. He’s also trying to get himself a castle in addition to the big bag o’ gold Jaime just gave him. Quoth Jaime, “We’re at war. Daenerys Targaryen could come take it back the day after you’ve moved in.” Try not to trip over your own foreshadowing there, guys.
Bad dad Randyll Tarly and his son Rickon (Dickon, actually) roll up and Jaime sends them off to badger all the farmers in the Reach into giving up their harvests. Then, we zip on over to King’s Landing, where’s Cersei is promising all of Highgarden’s gold to Iron Bank loan officer of the year, Mycroft Holmes, to pay off the crown’s debts at one shot. She also lets on that in order to fight the war in Westeros, they’re sending out feelers to the Golden Company, a sellsword army from one of the free cities of Essos… they’re quite talked about in the books, but I don’t know if that’s here nor there anymore.
While all of this seems like weird bits of filler in an episode that accomplished so much, I feel like it all says something about the Lannisters’ need to rely on people they’re paying, instead of people who are truly loyal to them, unlike, mayhaps, another king and/or queen we may know. So my point is, I suppose, money or loyalty, what makes the better army?
Es: First off, I would like to take a moment to wish our writing partner, 44th Greatest American, and turbo-creep Jim the best of luck with his film! I will even be in attendance when it comes here to Philly in a couple weeks (you know, if anyone wants to buy me drinks after…. because, yes, I’m making this all about ME).
Annnyway, to get to your question, Lacey… all things being equal, loyalty >>> money when it comes the the armies. My other takeaways from the non-battle portion of the Lannister scenes…
- See, Bronn gets it… Dickon is just a HORRENDOUS name. Also, “fancy lad school”… god, I love Bronn.
- Worst Father Evur Randyll Tarly seemed real, real upset that he didn’t get to flog people at the back of the column. You could tell by the way his sour puss got slightly more sour.
- Is it a waste to have Mark Gatiss play Banker Guy, whose scenes I almost want to skip through and that only seem to exist as a reason to work Cersei into the last two episodes?
Lacey: In the North, Littlefinger is giving gifts, specifically, his handing Bran the Valyrian steel dagger that was used in an attempt on his life, which was thwarted by his mom, Lady Catelyn Stark. (A dagger that we were told belonged to Littlefinger. A dagger that he said he lost to Tyrion in a bet Tyrion made against Jaime. A dagger that Littlefinger held to Ned Stark’s throat when he betrayed him. Basically, giving this dagger to Bran is some fucked up shit.) He gives a little speech, as Littlefinger is wont to do, going into his time in Cat’s friendzone, how he’s “protecting” her children, about Bran’s time away from home, and his return to a realm in chaos.
Bran responds to this with four words: “Chaos is a ladder.”
Looks like Littlefinger has heard this somewhere before, perhaps because it’s a direct quote from a speech he gave to Varys back in season 3 about how he uses chaos to improve his station in the world. To quote the great Whoopi Goldberg, “girl, you in danger.”
Before Littlefinger can respond, Meera comes in to tell Bran she’s heading home to Greywater Watch, because she wants to be with her family when “they” come. This means she’s headed home to her dad, Howland Reed, best friend to one Eddard “Ned” Stark, and the only other person still breathing in Westeros who knows the true identity of Jon Snow’s parents. Bran’s flat response leads her to the realization the Bran isn’t really home anymore, becoming the Three-Eyed Raven has sapped his empathy but good. He knows too much now to go back and pretend. So, from this rich 5 minutes of screen time, I derive my questions 3. Firstly, what else do we think Bran knows about Littlefinger’s copious dirty dealings and is there enough of Bran left in there to care? Two, do we think we’ll be seeing Meera and Howland Reed sooner or later? And, C, what would creepy new Bran’s college major be, now that he’s obviously forsaken architecture?
Es: Finally Littlefinger is talking to someone who knows WAY more than him (and is also probably creepier as well). Knowledge has always been its own weapon on this show, and if that holds true, Bran is one of the most powerful people in the story… if not THE most powerful.
A big question for me here, in addition to how much time they spent on Chekhov’s Dagger (seriously, what up with that??), is the same as yours: How much does Bran know about Littlefinger? Will he tell the others (and maybe more specifically, his little murderous super-killer sister) that LF betrayed their father? Should he already be on her list because of what she overheard him talking to Tywin Lannister about at Harrenhal (i.e., conspiring against the Starks). I almost think so… to both of these things.
So I’m calling it now… THEORY TIME: Arya kills Littlefinger AND he may also kill her in the process. This is obviously PURE speculation on my part, but it seems like the show is leading us in that general direction. The look they exchange after Arya and Brienne fight says much, even if we don’t know what that “much” is.
And it sure appears to me like that’s all there is for Meera, and the Creepy Reed Kids in general… which gives me a mild version of The Sad, especially with the sendoff Bran gave her. Most dickish goodbye since Curly Bill in Tombstone. I’m doubting that we’ll see her or Howland again, just because I think they’re slowly just eliminating characters in one way or another to bring everything to a head. I’m glad she survived, though.
But she’s right in the fact that Bran did die in that cave, and that she is the only one who survived that trip. This is kind of interesting to me… for a couple reasons.
Firstly, if you look at the thought/theory that the direwolves kind of mimic the Stark kids… Summer dying in that cave just sort of adds validity to it, as that’s kinda where Bran died too. Arya seeing Nymeria a couple weeks back also seems to be a parallel… Nymeria was lost and then went to stay with her pack, and Arya has been lost and is now rejoining her pack. Shaggydog died, and non-zig-zagging Rickon soon followed. Grey Wind died with Robb at the Red Wedding. And Lady was killed on the way to King’s Landing, much like how the naive person Sansa used to be died in that city.
So, all that said, where the fuck is Ghost???
Lastly here, with Bran saying he’s not really Bran anymore because he has all of these other memories, it makes me think of what really makes you who you are. I assume everyone has heard the line before, “We are a sum total of our experiences,” and if that’s the case, you’re really a sum total of the MEMORIES of your experiences and how you feel about said memories. So, in effect, he really ISN’T Brandon Stark anymore. He’s just some spaced-out motherfucker in a chair who knows ALL the shit.
So, to answer your last question, Lacey… Bran would study Puppet Arts… not for any other reason than puppets are creepy as fuck AND they are (hopefully) dead inside… much like a certain Three-Eyed Raven we know.
Lacey: Arya’s home! She manages not to kill a couple of idiot guards on her way in to Winterfell, which I’m actually pretty proud of her for… I kind of wanted to kill them. In the crypt, they both allude to the not awesome time that’s passed since last they saw each other. Arya asking if Sansa actually killed Joffery, Sansa’s like, I wish I would have, and Arya’s all “Same.” She also mentions her list, saying that Joffery was on it, and she’s very disappointed she didn’t get to do the job herself. Sansa takes Arya to see Bran in the Godswood, where Sansa basically learns that her two living siblings (I legitimately couldn’t remember what happened to Rickon for a minute, then I was like “Oh, zig zag, dipshit.”) are an empathy-devoid psychic and a badass baby assassin. By the way Sansa asks “Who else was on your list?” and her response to Arya saying “Most of them are dead now.” I’m pretty sure she thinks this brand-new Arya is kind of neat. Bran also gives Arya the Valyrian steel dagger because it’s “wasted on a cripple”.
Arya’s neat new toy and fancy-pants learning are promptly put on display when she wanders up to Brienne schooling Pod in a sparring match. At one point, Brienne asks “Who taught you how to do that?” Arya, “No one.” The match ends with the Valyrian steel dagger at Brienne’s throat, a smirking Sansa and Littlefinger probably pooping himself in the gallery.
So, do we think that Lady Stark is learning lessons from all around her well enough to be able to use her baby brother and sister’s new talents to benefit them all? Also, does Arya’s answer of “no one” about who taught her the water dancing style of fighting indicate that Syrio Forel was not really just a Braavosi sword fighter, but a Faceless Man like our girl, and possibly even Jaqen H’ghar in another form?
Es: This may be the first time I have ever said this, but poor Sansa. Girlfriend was just starting to get her shit together and smelling herself a little bit… then here comes her creepy kid brother who suddenly knows ALL THE THINGS. And what’s that? Her kid sister is home too…. annnnnnnd she can suddenly hold her own with one of the best fighters in Westeros.
Meanwhile, after ALL the shit that she’s been through, Sansa can just… um… kind of… scheme and shit… and really, she’s only had like one win, albeit a big one with the Battle of the Bastards.
Also, while Sansa is certainly scarred (and with good reason), Bran and Arya are both just dead inside… though Arya to a lesser extent. And Jon… well, he LITERALLY died… plus he’s always just been a morose motherfucker to begin with. So much for the joy of reuniting the fam.
And I actually read Sansa’s reaction to Arya as more fear and concern than anything else… but mayhaps I read incorrectly? I’d be interested in hearing what other people think about that.
To answer the question you posed, I’m not sure that Sansa has it quite in her to manage this little wolf pack, mostly because I don’t think Bran, Arya, or even Jon is going to listen to her (though Jon will to a certain extent).
And now, dear readers, this is when I go full-on geek….
Though it changes fairly often among four or five characters, I’m fairly certain Arya is my favorite character in the whole series. (Side note: what the FUCK does that say about me??) So her homecoming had me experiencing ALL OF THE FEELS. I think she’s the first of those who have come home who you see actually experiencing being back in Winterfell and taking it all in… which was great.
Then we see her reunion with Sansa in the crypt, and really, what better place is there to tell your sister who you haven’t seen in years about your Murder List™ two minutes into your first conversation. It’s like, “Whoa! Slow down there, sister!”
Then we have the fight between her and Brienne.
Oh. my. fucking. god.
As this started and then went on, I literally had a blanket clenched to my face, and was silently screaming and slapping my thigh in geekgasmic nerdvana. It was seriously one of the best things I’ve ever watched on TV (as was the other, even bigger fight, which we will get to).
My observations about this sparring match:
- The way Maisie Williams moves during the whole scene, even when she comes strolling up, is just fantastic. Just a great bit of body language acting. Which kind of leads into…
- I really (re)noticed here that Arya is left-handed, and remembered once I noticed it that Maisie trained to be left-handed to be true to the books. I found the moves she did with the sword and the dagger a really impressive feat of dexterity (because that HAD to be her doing some of that stuff), and now even more so since the actress herself is right-handed.
- This is not to say that Gwendoline Christie didn’t do her part here either. Between the two actresses and the fight choreographer, my hat (if I owned a hat) is just OFF.
- The first-person perspective shot of Arya just after the fight starts with Needle pointed at the camera (i.e., the viewer)…. that’s PHENOMENAL. I think I need to make that my computer’s wallpaper or something. (Problems… yes, I have them.)
- We all learn in this scene JUST how good Arya is at fighting. Sure, we all know that she’s a superb murderer… but murder and fighting are two different things. (Am I really writing this shit?) We only really saw her fight recently against the Waif, and she repeatedly got her ass kicked, so we had no real concept of how good she is. I mean, Arya eventually murdered her too, but it was more her smarts that did the Waif in than it was necessarily her fighting ability. In this scene in this episode, however, we see her against one of the best fighters in the game. And she’s holding her own, and essentially sort of ties with her. Which brings me to my final point here….
- When the fight ends with Arya’s dagger at Brienne’s neck and Brienne’s sword at Arya’s head, they both have a “Coulda killed ya, Dick” moment a’la Young Guns. The look on each of their faces (read: smiles) is just TREMENDOUS.
Oh! And to answer your question (sorry, I got lost in my geek out)… no, I think “no one” was just a reference to her days at Oreo Hall, though I was a bit surprised she was so water-dancery, especially since it’s been years since she trained with the First Sword of Braavos…. or has it??? Interesting thought, Lacey. Interesting thought indeed.
Lacey: On Dragonstone, Dany is just as curious about eunuch sex as the rest of us were last week, but before we get the hot deets, Jon comes to show her his dragonglass. Not a euphemism. Conveniently, the Children of the Forest left behind a neat little set of pictographs showing themselves banding together with the First Men to fight a, or possibly the, Night King. He tries to use this to convince her to fight with her, she says she will, if he’ll bend the knee. Being that these are the two most stubborn people in the Seven Kingdoms, I say the only way this works is if we throw a little aunt/nephew wedding. What say you?
Es: Allow me to state for the record that I am not at all curious about eunuch sex. This is not to say I have anything against eunuchs having sex (because really, knock yourself out!)… just that I’m not curious about it… much like I’m not curious about most people’s sexual escapades… though really this probably says more about me and my deep, alarming issues than anything else. Quickly moving on….
Wow, those cave drawings were SUPER convenient to find, huh? I’m surprised he didn’t make his own drawrings of a little Jon and little Dany teaming up to battle the evul!!
Unfortunately (at least from my perspective), it seems like you were right last week when you said that we are probably headed toward some freaky-deaky incestuous stuff with these two. It looks like they are riding down the marriage road. The question is, do they find out before they get married or after… and if they find out after, do they then have a puke session that rivals the one from Family Guy?
Also, before we move on, I just need to call out Davos’ “less/fewer” exchange with Jon. Seems like he learned something from his former king… and it was a nice and funny callback as well.
Lacey: Tyrion is here with more bad news about the battles, and because they’re fighting against his relatives, she calls his loyalty into question. Then, she asks for Jon’s advice about what she should be doing. He tells her that Westeros has had a lot of shitty rulers, and that she’s kind of built her name on not being a shitty ruler, so if she wants to be different than the shitty rulers that came before her, best not to go around burning civilians and melting castles.
Later, Jon & Davos are getting in some girl talk about Dany’s “good heart” when they come upon Missandei. They give her a quick primer on bastards, not a thing where she’s from, and she catches them up on how Dany rolls, vis a vis her followers. She is their chosen leader, they don’t just follow her because she’s the spawn of some king they’ve never met, but because they believe in her. Kind of sounds like a certain King in the North we know, eh?
Oh, look what the tide washed in! It’s Theon everybody! Time to thank Jon for your pathetic life in the same way we thank you for your exposition that gets us to, dun dun dun…
Randyll Tarly rolling up, with some more exposition and foreshadowing for us to trip on, the troops are spread thin, yada yada, the gold is through the gates of King’s Landing. He rides off, and we get the Dickon joke everyone’s been waiting for courtesy of Bronn, who also suddenly hears a Who. Or, rather, an approaching Dothraki horde, backed by, what’s that? Dany on Drogon. Looks like homegirl took the advice of Jon and Tyrion, then put her own special Targaryen-twist on it, because today, she’s grilling up some Lannister soldiers with that special word “Dracarys.” the command that makes her dragons spit more fire than Eminem. This all leads to the most pants-shittingly terrifying battle image this show has yet given us, a bunch of Dothraki riding through the flaming bodies of dead and dying Lannister men. Ho. Ly. Shit. Between that and the news that Chris Pratt and Anna Farris are separating, I didn’t sleep very well last night.
Dany lays waste to the supply train. Buh-bye, grain from the Reach. The archers go next, and in the fighting, Jaime is saved from being killed by a Dothraki by Dickon, bet Jaime won’t call him Rickon any time soon. Then Bronn. BRONN, abandons the big bag of gold to fight his way to the dragon-killing scorpion. We’ve had some laughs Bronn, but if you kill Drogon, we’re through.
Up on a hill, Tyrion surveys the carnage with some Dothraki, one of whom goes ahead and rubs it in with a “Your people don’t know how to fight.” And these, technically, are Tyrion’s people. Lannisters being burned and slaughtered out there. Jaime has successfully avoided being flambeed while Bronn fought his way to the scorpion. He gets in position and gets a shot off at Drogon, who doesn’t go down, but is injured. He stabilizes enough to completely destroy the damn thing that hurt him.
While Dany is trying to get the arrow, er, spear, out of Drogon’s shoulder, Jaime decides to go ahead and take a run at her. Tyrion looks on, rightly calling him a fucking idiot, as Drogon notices he’s coming and fires up. Jaime’s luck hasn’t run out yet, and someone, I think Bronn, but possibly the newly minted brave guy Dickon, tackles him off his horse into the conveniently located body of water. And that’s it, we close with Jaime, fully armored, sinking into the water.
So, what do with think is next for the Kingslayer, will a mermaid swim by and take him out of his metal clothes? Is this the end? Who do you think saved him? How badly hurt do we think Drogon is? Is Dickon just the latest named bit of cannon fodder that will die heroically and be forgotten about by the fandom? How many times did you poop yourself in the 50 minute running time of this episode?
Es: I believe my message to you after I finished watching this episode was something like “OMG OMG OMG OMG OMFG” and I stand by that sentiment. Due to the aforementioned fangirl geekout I had about all things Arya this week, THEN getting ALL OF THIS GOODNESS on top of it…. fuck. I think this was one of the best hours of TELEVISION I have ever seen. Though I have seen reviews this week that kind of pan the episode, which leaves me thinking, “What the fuck show are these ass-clowns watching!!?!?!”
To back up these sentiments, usually I’m sort of lying on my couch while watching TV, but as this battle escalated, I first sat bolt upright, then slowly started to eke my way to literally the edge of my seat with my elbows on my knees and my hands up over my gaping mouth… and that is how I watched most of this go down. I don’t know if any other scene on the show did this to me… MAYBE the Battle at the Wall when the Wildlings attack…. OH! Hardhome definitely did this to me. Fuck. That was insane…. but I think this battle was even better than that. Here are some reasons why…
- First off, STAGGERINGLY beautiful countryside, and some of the shots in this sequence were just magnificent to me. Two that specifically come to mind are the horde charging and Drogon flying over them, and the other is the scene where Drogon flies low over the Blackwater and you can see him kicking up wake in the river. So, SO spectacular.
- Secondly, even though it was set up with exposition, this battle kind of came out of NOWHERE for me… which kind of made it even more squeal-worthy.
- Thirdly, I didn’t even know who I was cheering for! (And it even seemed to me that for a minute or two Tryion didn’t know either.) I didn’t want Dany (not that she was much at risk, because plot armor) or ESPECIALLY Drogon to die, and I CERTAINLY didn’t want Jaime or Bronn to die. So I was like… who do I want to win this thing?? (And no, I do not think Jaime is dead… what I think may make the most sense is that he is captured and reunited with Tyrion… and then, of course, wacky hijinks ensue…. or something. I could also be wrong… but I would bet real money he’s not dead.)
- Speaking of these two sides squaring off… Bronn vs. the most vicious killing machine outside of the Army of the Deadz. And the dude holds his own. Bronn vs. a giant dragon is about as fair a fight as you’re going to get with a human vs. a 747-sized, fire-spewing monster. When he finally hit Drogon with the scorpion I was like, “OH NOES!!!!” and I really thought there was a chance he was a goner. Yep, thousands of people are being burned alive and I’m more worried about the dragon. Thanks, Game of Thrones. During this scene, even though I knew Dany has to go on, the show still generated enough doubt (at least for me) that made the drama of her potentially dying about as real as it could be….even if I was certain it couldn’t happen. And I wasn’t so certain that Bronn was going to make it off that scorpion in time, which filled me with lots o’ dread.
- The look on Jaime and Bronn’s faces when they first hear the dragon. It was just perfect that the director chose to focus on those two and their perspective on this battle, because seeing the horde and the first dragon attack in hundreds of years…. yeah, that’s something you want their perspective on.
- Just the special effects, the size of it all, and the sheer chaos going on. It was horrifically beautiful to watch.
- The sound of the horses coming in the distance reminded me of the beginning of the Hardhome battle in it’s ominousness, where you heard the dogs barking then the low rumble of ALL THE DEADZ coming for them. And of course it’s Bronn who hears the horses and realizes that there’s danger coming for them, much like Chewie knew something was up before the gang came across Vader in Cloud City.
How’s THAT for mixing some iconic geek franchises??
*geek mic drop*
And that’s our week. I will not apologize for the amount of images in this post. There was just so much amazingness this time around. Join us next week, when James returns, and presumably, hopefully, this happens, but probably not. That’s a lot of smiles for a group of Starks.