Angry Robot

Eastwatch

Game of Thrones   Season 7   Episode 5

There was a lot going on in “Eastwatch”, it just wasn’t what I expected at all. The title seemed to point to a big battle at the eponymous Wall fort, which did not happen. Rather, we got a combination of intrigue and setup as the show lines up the final two episodes of the season.

The first big confounded expectation is that Jaime and Bronn were not captured after the cliffhanger (watersinker?) ending of last week’s episode, but washed downstream to safety. Jaime returns to King’s Landing to tell Cersei, “this isn’t a war we can win”, and to pass on the message that Oleanna killed Joffrey and not Tyrion.

Dany makes an offer to her remaining prisoners: serve her or die. Randyll and Dickon Tarly choose death, and are torched by Drogon, which upsets Tyrion, who was also visibly upset by the ashy horror of the post-conflict battlefield. Later, he commiserates with Varys over a… flagon of wine. Dany’s actions are either sadistic and mad kingish or perfectly understandable, or a bit of both.

Up in the Winterfell godswood, Bran wargs some ravens and spies upon the Army of the Dead, which is marching toward Eastwatch. He dispatches ravens to Dragonstone and Oldtown, where Sam overhears the Archmaesters’ waffling on the issue and urges them to somehow support the effort to fight the Night King. When their response is further waffling, he rage quits the Citadel, after raiding the library for some “forbidden” tomes, and narrowly missing a huge revelation: that Rhaegar annulled his marriage to Elia Martell before marrying Lyanna Stark, making Jon the true Targaryen heir.

When Jon gets Bran’s message, he wants to head north and fight. Dany won’t help because she can’t be sure Cersei won’t attack if she leaves. The Dragonstone war council (feat. Davos, Tyrion, Varys) arrives at an odd plan: if they can grab a wight and show Cersei that the threat in the north is real, perhaps they can cease hostilities for a spell and focus on the northern front.

To further this wacky scheme, Davos smuggles Tyrion into King’s Landing, where Davos recruits long lost rowing champ Gendry, and Bronn tricks Jaime into meeting his father-killing brother. Jaime brings the plan to Cersei, who seems surprisingly amenable. Also: she’s pregnant! So she says, anyway.

In Winterfell, it seems Littlefinger has found a Stark he can trick. Arya snoops on his apparently treacherous antics, culminating in her breaking into his room and stealing a scroll he had requested. But we see Littlefinger look on, stopping just short of twirling his moustache. The scroll contains the message Sansa sent ages ago, to brother Robb on Cersei’s behest claiming Ned betrayed Joffrey, and urging Robb to bend the knee. So Littlefinger’s plan is to turn Arya against Sansa, which is handy because Arya has already of her own accord accused Sansa of trying to usurp control of the north from Jon.

Phew!

The final scenes of the episode see Team Wight Extraction (Jon, Davos, Jorah, and Gendry) travel to Eastwatch, explain the plan to Tormund, and meet up with his new prisoners Beric, Thoros, and the Hound. They all have various reasons to hate each other, but they decide they’re all on the same side because, as Jon says, “we’re all breathing.” So Strike Team Wight adds four members, and all but Davos head through the gate into the snowy hell beyond the wall.

This episode strained credulity in some ways. The way the previous episode ended, it didn’t seem possible that Jaime would escape capture. Furthermore the plan to steal a wight and bring it to Cersei is outlandish at best. After all, is Cersei really in a position to attack Dany, with her army having been just destroyed? Thrones does this from time to time, though, and I’ve learned to just grin and bear it, as what is really happening is the show is moving so quickly it’s not spending the time to lay plot infrastructure, as that can eat up screen time with less interesting scenes. We could have had more scenes of Jaime and Bronn evading the dothraki, stripping off armour, etc, until But they chose to skip ahead, possibly for good reasons? Who knows, yet.

Initiate random point-form note mode!

  • Is Cersei really pregnant? Or perhaps just worried Jaime will switch allegiance from her to Tyrion. Having an heir certainly helps her cause seem, oh, 20% less lost.
  • the Jon & Drogon scene. Seems he has some dragonriding in his future. Ghost will be jealous – although Ghost’s been absent all season, getting a passing mention from Sansa that he’s still patiently waiting for Jon.
  • Despite the bizarre objectives, you have got to love Strike Team Wight. Some of the shows baddest asses are all about to fight together. Unfortunately, some of them are going to die. And “die” almost certainly means “come back as an ice zombie”. Start placing your bets, I guess.

The Spoils of War

Game of Thrones   Season 7   Episode 4

The literal spoils of war in this episode are the treasure and food supplies that Jaime is bringing from the just-defeated Highgarden to King’s Landing. But the episode spends much more time on things spoiled by war, like the Stark children and perhaps even Danaerys Targaryen’s soul. It ends with the biggest battle of the season so far: a Team Targ rout of the Lannisters so violent and furious that no character seemed safe.

The episode opens to some stage-setting: Jaime, Bronn and the Tarlys are supervising the transfer of Tyrell wealth from Highgarden to King’s Landing. Cersei has promised the Iron Bank payment in full of the Lannister debt with these spoils, and Iron Banker Tycho Nestoris is basically salivating at the prospect. He offers help, which may take the form of mercenary army The Golden Company. (Will they be deployed to the North?)

We decamp to Winterfell for a series of portentous scenes. Littlefinger offers his help, and a certain dagger, to Bran. By quoting Petyr’s signature line “chaos is a ladder” back to him, Bran puts Littlefinger on high alert. Arya returns, and outmaneuvers some Winterfell guards of below average intelligence and peripheral vision. She and Sansa have a rather morose reunion in the crypts, where both reflect on how their lives have been… Spoiled by War™. Arya meets Bran, who gives her the dagger. Sansa realizes that Arya’s “list” of people to kill is in fact real, which dismays her. And in a fabulous training scene between Arya and Brienne, Arya displays to the observing Littlefinger and Sansa that she’s now one of the deadliest people in Westeros. And she has an awesome cocky smirk the whole time.

Back on Dragonstone, Jon shows Danaerys the obsidian mines, in which children of the forest have carved a little pictorial about how the Children and First Men banded together to fight the White Walkers. This gives Jon – who like an earnest undergrad who’s Really Into The Environment Now, can’t stop going on about The Real Threat – an opportunity to go on about The Real Threat. Dany will help him, if he bends the knee; he doesn’t think northerners will accept a southern ruler. Dany asks: if he wants to save them, is his pride such a high price? (Guys, I have a solution to this problem that involves some knee bending and teaming up without any loss of face: ask me about Marriage!)

When Dany gets the bad news about how the war is going, she gets pissed at Tyrion and wants action. Jon gives lyrical advice about how the dragons are an inspiring symbol, of how she makes impossible things happen, but if she uses them to incinerate cities she’s just more of the same cruel rulers the people have always known. Offscreen, we can conclude, Dany arrives at a sort of compromise solution: inspire people by incinerating Lannister soldiers!

The episode closes with a 13 minute battle scene of epic scale. We learn from Randyll “Exposition” Tarly that the gold has made it through to King’s Landing but the army and the grain wagons are stretched thin. After a little scene about Dickon Tarly’s first impressions of war (back-stabby and stinky), a strange rumbling sound is sensed… the Dothraki horde. We get the build-up, the terrified anticipation, and then the horrifically violent clash. Dany and Drogon turn lines of soldiers to ash and obliterate the sitting duck supply train; the Dothraki whoop, leap and slash their way to a bloody victory. Bronn manages to get to the “scorpion” ballista and land a shot on Drogon, but it only wounds him. When Danaerys tries to take the bolt out, Jaime charges at her, but survives only when Bronn tackles him and the two plunge into the depths of the Blackwater.

It’s exciting, and it’s hard to know who to cheer for, and I thought first Bronn, then Drogon was for sure a goner – but perhaps most importantly the scene drives home the point of the episode. We had been seeing the damage war does in dialogue; now we see it in flame, ash and blood, seen through the eyes of Jaime, perhaps recalling the flame games of the Mad King he served; Bronn, running for his life yet more or less in his element, and Tyrion, watching from a safe distance but looking like he may regret the decision to turn on his family. Meanwhile Danaerys seems enraptured by fiery rage. Not a good look for her.

  • Bran. I said last time he went full wizard – perhaps it’s more like “on the spectrum”? I guess the idea is that Bran took over the Three Eyed Raven’s position and powers too early. It gave him theoretical omniscience, but also may have fried his brain a touch so that he says he’s not Bran, not anymore, fails to give the departing Meera an adequate goodbye, and fails to tell Arya to stab the scheming Littlefinger with the dagger he gives her.
  • Speaking of that dagger. When Bran asks Littlefinger if he knew whose it was, one possible answer could be Anton Checkov. I sense great things for you, little dagger, even if I don’t know what they are. Killing Littlefinger? Killing the Night King…?
  • Speaking of Littlefinger. He’s been trying to manipulate the Stark children, and failing. He hasn’t tried with Arya yet, but the look he gives her after seeing her fight means he surely will, and he may have more success.
  • After that royal torching, can we assume that all the Reach grain stores are now destroyed? What does that mean plot-wise? Certainly we would expect King’s Landing to be much less capable of withstanding a siege now. But will it have repercussions elsewhere? After seemingly-throwaway lines about food supply from Sansa (x2) and even Danaerys, my foreshadowing sense is tingling. Guess who had the foresight in the books (or rather, sample chapters) to buy up grain supply? Littlefinger.
  • I’m sure no one’s convinced by the cliffhanger ending that Jaime’s done for. But perhaps he will wind up a captive. It seems like a good opportunity for a Jaime/Tyrion scene.
  • Tealeaf-reading: next episode is titled “Eastwatch”. So the Army of the Dead will breach, or more likely bypass, the Wall next week. Dress warm!
  • Even more convoluted tealeaf-reading: from the preview for Eastwatch, Jon is back at Dragonstone. Yet recall that the second season 7 trailer, had scenes of Jon fighting White Walkers this season. So if he’s not fighting them at Eastwatch, my money’s on Winterfell at the end of the season, only three episodes away at this point. The only dramatic outcome of such a battle would be Winterfell… falling.

Hackers Leak Episodes Of ‘Game Of Thrones’ After Massive HBO Hack

Episodes 3 (already aired) and 4, but they may have more
UPDATE: heh I forgot I had kinda already posted this. Although it was only a script when last reported.

The Queen’s Justice

Game of Thrones   Season 7   Episode 3

We start with Jonny Snow and Davos arriving at Dragonstone to meet Danaerys Targaryen, the first of our three queens in this episode. The big meet with Dany doesn’t go smoothly. Jon refuses to submit to her rule, Dany doesn’t believe about the White Walkers and it seems Jon will wind up a prisoner in the castle until Tyrion brokers a deal of sorts. Jon is allowed to mine Dragonstone and to leave freely, and Dany is allowed to catch a fleeting glance back at him as he leaves… looks like a Dany/Jon romance is officially in the cards, which would certainly be one way for Jon to submit to her without losing face. He’d wind up King of Westeros, not just the north!

In Greyjoy news, Theon gets taken aboard an anonymous Kraken ship. Euron parades the captive Yara, Ellaria and Tyene through the streets of King’s Landing to the delight of manifold background performers, and drops them off in the throne room, but Cersei won’t marry him until the war is over. Euron taunts Jaime some more in delightful fashion, and Cersei comes up with a suitably horrible punishment for Ellaria, who poisoned Cersei’s daughter Myrcella: she poisons Ellaria’s daughter Tyene with the same poison, leaving her to die in a cell with her mother, who will be kept alive – and so she gets to watch her child rot for the rest of her life. Lovely. So that’s Cersei’s form of justice.

Sam’s storyline advances promptly and predictably: Jorah is cured of his grayscale, and departs to rejoin his queen. Sam is neither punished nor rewarded for his efforts, but is assigned to transcribe a tableful of rotting scrolls and books. I’m guessing there are some juicy secrets up in them scrolls though to keep this plot going?

Up in Winterfell, Sansa is queening it up proper-style, preparing for a long winter. “Command suits you,” oozes Littlefinger, before he gets all metaphysical on her – “fight every battle, everywhere, always, in your mind. Everyone is your enemy, everyone is your friend, every possible series of events is happening all at once.” Such a worldview would predispose one to a mistrustful nature.

But Littlefinger’s musings are interrupted by the arrival of Bran, who has gone full wizard. He has trouble explaining his powers to Sansa, but his ability to see “everything that’s ever happened, to everyone, everything that’s happening right now” sounds a lot like someone else: Littlefinger.

We get the Unsullied assault on Casterly Rock and as expected, they exploit Tyrion’s knowledge of the sewer system to sneak in and take the castle from the inside. Surprise! Most of the Lannister forces are missing, and Euron shows up conveniently and trashes their fleet.

The Lannister forces show up outside Highgarden, allied with the Tarlys and led by Jaime. The battle takes place offscreen, but goes well for Jaime. He gets a poignant scene with Oleanna, in which she unsuccessfully attempts to convince him that Cersei is “a disease”. Before she dies from poisoned wine, she tells Jaime that she’s the one who poisoned Joffrey. This is significant because Jaime and Cersei blame Tyrion for this. Cersei may not believe Oleanna, but Jaime does and this could ultimately bring him closer to Tyrion.

Overall this was an impressive episode. It hurtled forward at alarming pace when it wanted to (Casterly Rock, Highgarden), and took its time elsewhere, namely on powerful, one-on-one scenes between most of the show’s key remaining players. The character count went down by two. Cersei is definitely the success story here: she’s gone from a terrible position at the start of the season to near dominance in a mere three hours of screen time. This will drive Dany to forego her cautious approach and get her hands dirty, making her less likely to help the northerners any time soon.

Various loose plot droppings, nuggets of interest, and questions:

  • Interesting scene with Varys and Melisandre, where we learn she is checking out and heading to Volantis, but will return to Westeros at some point because “I have to die in this strange country, just like you.” I’m surprised to see her go already; I thought she had a chance to convert Dany to her fire god. Dany likes fire, after all.
  • Jon stops Davos from mentioning his murder and resurrection, and Dany notices. What will come of this? Surely there is some significance to Jon’s undead status, or was it just a fakeout cliffhanger for the end of a season and/or book?
  • We have a super-expository scene between Cersei and a representative of the Iron Bank, in which she vows to pay her debt in full within a fortnight. Why have this scene? Perhaps if she secures fresh funds from the bank, she will seem all the more impossible to defeat.
  • What exactly is Littlefinger’s plan? Waiting around for Sansa to listen to him doesn’t seem good enough. Moreover, if Bran can get his wizard shit together he could expose Littlefinger’s shenanigans fairly quickly. My guess is that LF is still in communication with Cersei. He may have betrayed her by siding with Sansa against the Boltons, but he’s the most likely to help her in the north at this point. If I were Bran, I would be worried about Littlefinger.
  • things that are being telegraphed by repeated mention: dragons have weaknesses, the battle for King’s Landing will be bloody, the northerners should look out for Cersei
  • I wouldn’t be at all surprised if in the next episode or two we see the White Walkers attack Eastwatch and either breach or bypass the wall. Probably the latter, by going in the water. This could leave Winterfell as the climactic battle scene of the season. By that point the Lannisters could be marching north…

Stormborn

Game of Thrones   Season 7   Episode 2

In episode two of the shortest season of Game of Thrones to date, things are moving along at a fair clip. The plans of Teams Lannister and Targaryen are elaborated and set in motion; the north squabbles some more, and the “X Episodes Without a Character Death” sign gets reset to zero again. It’s a lot more drama than a typical Thrones Episode 2, but then that makes sense.

Danaerys is getting stir-crazy in Dragonstone, and who can blame her with all the crappy weather. Her Hand Tyrion wants to take the seven kingdoms “without turning it into a slaughterhouse”. He wants to avoid using the Unsullied, Dothraki or the dragons to take the capitol, for fear of bad optics and/or fiery massacres. The plan is for Yara Greyjoy’s fleet to take the Dornish down to Dornville Central and pick up their army, and then bring them back to lay siege to King’s Landing along with the army of the Reach. Meanwhile the Unsullied will take Lannister HQ Casterly Rock. The other allies are less cautious, and Lady Oleanna counsels Dany, “you’re a dragon – BE a dragon.”

The Lannisters are still amassing allies. To a roomful of Tyrell bannermen, Cersei paints Danaerys as a crazy, cruel invader at the head of a bloodthirsty foreign army (do I detect some echoes of Trump-era nationalism?), and asks for them to betray their liege lords to serve the crown directly. Jamie makes a private plea to Randyll Tarly, offering him the Wardenship of the South, but Sam’s nasty dad doesn’t make a decision. Meanwhile, Cersei’s creepy maester Qyburn has a plan to take down dragons, and it involves a rather large ballista. Not very imaginative, really. Was hoping for a paper maché fake sexy dragon full of wildfire barrels, or something.

In the north, Jon gets ravens! Sam’s message about the supplies of obsidian on Dragonstone arrives, as does a message from Tyrion, asking Jon to head down to meet Dany, to strike up an alliance and/or “bend the knee”, as they say. Jon tells his unruly war council that he and Davos are going to accept the invitation, which is another unpopular choice, but everyone seems okay with it when he leaves Sansa in charge. Also, Littlefinger tries to befriend Jon but Jon throttles him.

In Oldtown, Archmaester Ebrose declares Jorah’s greyscale incurable, and shoots down Sam’s ideas from the texts his been digging up in the library. Sam, out of apparent loyalty to Jeor Mormont, Jorah’s late father and Sam’s old commander at the Night’s Watch, disobeys orders and attempts a rather painful treatment that involves tearing off all the stone skin piece by piece.

Arya meets some old friends. She finds Hot Pie at the inn we last saw him at, serving pie, as one does. He tells her that Jon is now King in the North. She decides to go north instead of south and on the way encounters Nymeria, her direwolf, who is leading a pack of wolves. But Nymeria no longer wants to be a pet, it seems.

We get a fiery nautical action scene to close out the episode. Euron intercepts Yara’s fleet, kills two of the Sand Snakes (no, I can’t remember their names) and takes Yara and Ellaria captive. Theon reverts to Reek-era wussiness (ok, PTSD) and escapes overboard.

I’m pretty sure this episode contains everything we have come to want from Game of Thrones: Sex! War! Scheming! Backstabbing! Character Deaths! Yet it’s hard to be too satisfied what this episode is giving us when it is clearly setting us up for even more dramatic payoff further into the season. We get the satisfaction of seeing characters like Varys and Dany, or Arya and Hot Pie meet up, but soon it will be Jon and Danaerys, or Cersei and her daughter’s killer Ellaria. We see the battle lines drawn, but not that much actual battle just yet. Nonetheless, these early-season episodes aren’t usually this compelling. The amped-up budget and shorter season are helping things along.

Random things:

  • I didn’t mention the Missandei / Grey Worm sex scene, but yeah, it was there. A little surprised they didn’t go full frontal with our eunuch friend? Too Much 4 Thronez?
  • In other eunuch news, Varys gets a grilling from Dany. A lot of exposition gets laid down. They are throwing down some plot tickets, but for what? Easy guess is that Dany will go a bit nuts, and Varys will say something to her.
  • Similarly, Jon assaulting Littlefinger seems designed to give Petyr more motivation to betray Jon.
  • Theon: my take was he was reverting to Reek mode, but my wife thought he was actually making a pretty good move. In fact upon reflection it does seem like the smartest possible play. I’m curious to see where his story goes; certainly Theon solo is a lot more interesting than Theon as Yara & Ellaria’s butler.
  • I never mentioned Ed Sheeran last episode, but it’s an interesting issue. In brief: there’s a tradition of pop music interacting with the show, and it’s usually done in a clever fashion. I found this instance no exception. I felt a cute, popular singer was helping the scene demonstrate to Arya that perhaps some of the people she considered enemies were not deserving of death by vengeance. But I can see that for others, perhaps he’s just too well known a pop star and he takes them out of the scene. These are people who clearly did not recognize Sigur Ros during the Purple Wedding.

‘Game of Thrones’ Showrunners Announce Next Project for HBO: ‘Confederate’

Set in alternate reality where the south won the Civil War and slavery is still legal in present day

Game Of Thrones badass Bronn used to be a cuddly British pop singer

Oh wow.

“Dragonstone”

Game of Thrones   Season 7   Episode 1

The way to a Thrones’ episode’s heart is through its title. The episode titles point directly to the themes being explored in that hour: most often, they mark a thread that weaves through the show’s various disparate plot lines, trying its best to make the ep seem less like a collection of unrelated scenes, and more like a standalone piece of storytelling that actually means something on its own. But, for the first episode in a season, this can be a challenge. The canonical unit of this sort of television is really the season, not the episode, and as such the first few episodes tend to function as the first act, setting up the board and moving pieces around in ways that, while they don’t seem that exciting right now, will be setting up for big moves later on. Fitting that the episode actually features two scenes with maps of the game board, the continent of Westeros, with the characters only getting started.

“Dragonstone” is the episode title and it represents the most significant dramatic action that occurs in this hour, right at the end: Danaerys Targaryen and her army finally land in Westeros. To her it represents her home, and the culmination of six seasons dicking around in the east. In King’s Landing, to Mad Queen Cersei and Ser Jaime the Exasperated, it signifies a huge new threat from the east, joining the others that surround them: Dorne and the Reach to the South and West, respectively, and the newly resurgent Starks in the North. Euron and his magnificent fleet arrive; he’s a potential, much-needed ally, but he wants to marry Cersei! The feeling is not mutual, so Euron leaves to bring her a “prize” of some sort (start your theories).

Down in Oldtown, we are treated to a surprise shit-and-gruel montage featuring Samwell Tarly and the restricted area in the library, which he finally breaks into and reads about…. Dragonstone. Which is indeed a repository of obsidian, one of the two things that can kill the White Walkers.

Up in Winterfell, Jon knows about obsidian but not Dragonstone, and orders a search for the rare material, before Sansa publicly and vociferously disagrees with the new King in the North about how best to use the castles of the Karstarks and Umbers, the Northern houses who sided with the Boltons against the Starks. Sansa thinks the castles (and titles) should be given to lords who didn’t betray them, while Jon points out the traitorous lords have already died on the battlefield, and he does not wish to punish the sons for the sins of their fathers. Jon gets his way, but the simmering Jon vs. Sansa feud bubbles on, starting to embody a particular thematic obsession of the show: different models of leadership. Jon is the noble hero who rules justly but is statistically a great deal likelier to lose his head; Sansa is the cold-hearted player of the game who “learned a great deal” from Cersei, the most cold-hearted of them all.

We also get two storylines that have not much to do with Dragonstone but do say something about those who pay the highest price for the games the nobles play. The Hound is now traveling with the Brotherhood without Banners, and they run across the property – and the long-dead corpses – of a farming family he last met when he was traveling with Arya. Then, he took their silver and left them for dead; now, he struggles with the results of that decision. He’s a rich character, well on his way toward the back half of the patented Thrones Villain-to-Hero Redemption Arc™, and the Brotherhood is helping him along. When Thoros gets him to gaze at the flames in the fireplace, The Hound sees the Army of the Dead passing through Eastwatch. Beric asks, “Do you believe me now, Clegane? Do you believe we’re here for a reason?”

The other storyline is Arya, and she provides a rare cold open. Wearing the face and voice of the always charming Walder Frey, she encourages his entire family to drink a toast… of poisoned wine. Boom. Later in the episode, she’s traveling to King’s Landing to continue her revenge quest when she runs into a small group of Lannister soldiers who have been sent to keep the peace in the Riverlands. Initially she wants to kill them, but they’re such friendly and kind-hearted lads she gives them a pass. From the cold open we’d deduce she’s of the Sansa/Cersei school of cold-hearted score-settling throne-gaming – literally killing the sons for the sins of the father – but from the other scene? It’s not so clear. She may have a heart left.

If I can sum up, which I can, it was an above average episode of graceful board-setting.

Loose ends:

  • Look at that, I fucking forgot about the Bran scene. He arrives at the wall – that’s it. You know what, Bran? Get off your ass a little and maybe I’ll remember your scenes next time.
  • The costuming is excellent as usual. Euron looked like a Biker Lord.
  • That was maybe the most artful “previously on” recap I’ve ever seen. Did they do an original score for it?
  • The dagger that was used in the attempted murder of Bran Stark back in the first season shows up as an illustration in one of the restricted books Sam and Gilly look through. Interesting! I didn’t remember it, but here’s some stuff about it: it’s Valyrian steel, it was owned by Littlefinger, I can’t tell if it’s the same one he uses to betray Ned Stark in the first season, but it’s supposed to be in the book. I wonder what its future holds!
  • Sure enough, as I predicted in my preview, Jorah Mormont is in Oldtown and he’s already met Sam. Although Jorah is NOT looking good.
  • Eastwatch. Sounds like that’s where it’s going down. It’s the fort on the wall where the wildlings will be posted, plus one can surmise the Brotherhood will head there.

Is Game of Thrones our last shared TV experience?

Incredible point:

More than anything, what makes Game of Thrones so resonant in the 2010s is that the show itself is about the passing of a golden age and the decline of common ideals. The various factions in Westeros are killing each other to reclaim a kingdom that for all practical purposes no longer exists — that has fragmented into regional spheres of influence unlikely to unite behind whomever ultimately sits on the Iron Throne. Audiences may feel a pang as they see themselves reflected on screen each week, roaming further away from an era that seems increasingly like a fairy tale.

Season 7 Pre-think

I posted my overly long Season 7 preview over on the r/asoiaf subreddit, where such things belong, so if you’re into that kind of thing, there’s some good discussion going on.

Game of Thrones S7 Preview Part 4: House Rando

Here we are, concluding our action-packed and laboriously wordy recap of where we stand before Game of Thrones Season 6! For previous posts, see here. To wrap things up, I’m going to throw an assortment of hanging plot chads in this post.

Samwell

As the last season ended, Sam, Gilly and Sam Jr. arrive in Oldtown for Sam’s Maester Training. Given that the show is even including this potentially dull-as-fuck storyline from the book, I’m going to guess there’s more going on here. As dragons scorch Westeros, we’re not going to cut back to Sam learning how to feed ravens.

The most likely explanation is that Sam is going to learn vital knowledge about the Others that will need to be transported, or transmitted, north. This is the big library, after all, where the Maesters hoard ancient knowledge. In the books, there is the character of Marwyn the Mage who may or may not be the vessel for such knowledge in the show. Sam’s also carrying his dad’s sword, which is one of the few Valyrian swords in Westeros. Like Jon’s sword Longclaw, Valyrian steel can kill Others.

The vital knowledge could have to do with the Others’ motivation or something, but more likely it’s details of how to kill them. One possibility: Sam learns how to forge Valyrian steel. It’s a lost art, but if it were to be found, would it not be in the citadel? According to legend, it requires spells and dragonfire. So Dany and her dragons would become all the more crucial to stopping the Others.

Although it hasn’t happened so far in the books, it is healthily foreshadowed that the Iron Islanders are going to attack Oldtown. They were already raiding along the coasts of the Reach, and Oldtown is a coastal city and likely a tempting target. In the show, Euron will probably learn his chances for an alliance with Daenerys are slim now as she’s sided with Theon and Yara, so attacking Targ allies like the Tyrells is certainly on the menu. It would give a backdrop of urgency to Sam’s story, especially if he is captured.

Speaking of the Tyrells

There’s not much Tyrell or Martell in the trailer, which isn’t a good sign for them. We can assume the Tyrells will be attacking the Lannisters, who did just wipe out their line after all (or do Loras and Margaery have other siblings in the show? They do in the books). However, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Randyll Tarly again, Sam’s dad, the asshole. He’s an asshole, but he’s also supposed to be a legendary warrior, and he’s pledged to the Tyrells, so it seems that if there are any Tyrell war scenes, he may be there.

Jorah

When last we saw Mr. Mormont, he had been tearfully dispatched by Dany to find a cure for his greyscale. I’m going to go ahead and bet that Jorah also winds up in Oldtown, and that he winds up teaming up with Sam and the gang.

How many white walkers are there?

“How to kill them” is already known (obsidian, Valyrian steel) and isn’t that big a deal considering that so far, we’ve only seen like a dozen of them. Obsidian from Dragonstone and whatever Sammy might learn in Maesterville would only really be necessary if there are many, many more. I mean, we’ve already seen how they make new ones – they just press on a baby’s face…? Not hard!

Mr. Forever Rowboat

Gendry is the bastard son of Robert Baratheon. Davos sent him away in a rowboat in Season 3(?) to avoid sacrifice at the hands of Stannis, and legend says he’s been rowing ever since. I wound up thinking about him because I figured he’d make a pretty good addition to Jon’s team of legendary badasses we see fighting in the snow in the trailer. Indeed, I think that’s the most likely role if he shows up again: he had already been a willing member of the Brotherhood without Banners, so it’s possible he’d rejoin them, and they appear to be well represented on Jon Snow’s latest snow expedition. But! Gendry actually has a claim to the Iron Throne, as all Robert’s other kids, and the Lannister pretend-kids, are now dead. I mean, that’s not going to happen. But as the last surviving person with Baratheon blood, I believe he would be entitled to rule the Stormlands. I think he’s owed that much, don’t you?

Wrap up

That’s about everything I can think of – if you think of more, get in touch via twitter or the contact form (twitter deets in the footer). I need to credit the subreddit r/asoiaf for being the most fertile online breeding ground for both sane and crazy theories about everyone’s favourite dragons n’ incest themed entertainment. The work of BryndenBFish is essential, and this essay in particular about the future of Dany’s storyline was important to my thoughts on her. I also love Alt Shift X and his analysis of the second trailer informed a number of my points.

GoT S7 Preview 1: Team Lannister
GoT S7 Preview 2: Team Targ
GoT S7 Preview 3: Team Stark
GoT S7 Preview 4: Team Rando

Game of Thrones S7 Preview Part 3: Team Stark

Hi, it’s Ser Exposition again, refreshing your memory and doing some theorizin’ ahead of the new season of everyone’s favourite swords-n-realpolitik TV show. So far we’ve covered the Lannisters and Dany and the Gang. Today it’s House Stark, and it’s a long one because there are so many Starks still alive! That can’t last, can it?

Partway through Season 6, Jon states his goals succinctly: he wants to unite the North so he can face the White Walkers with a united front. Sure enough, by the end of the season, Jon and Sansa are in Winterfell, having defeated Ramsay Bolton. Jonny Snowpants, working his way through the checklist!

In the trailer, Jon’s at to-do list item #2, as we see Jon and an assortment of legendary badasses (Beric Dondarrion, the Hound) fighting wights and Walkers. The presumption is that this is north of the wall: is it? Winter is here, after all, and if the walkers don’t breach the wall at some point, they’re not the existential threat they’re made out to be. This could be further south.

Season 6 ends with Littlefinger trying to convince Sansa that she’s the rightful leader of House Stark, not Jon. (I’m so tempted to just call her Salsa from now on: sometimes autocorrect is right.) How far will this potential conflict go? The trailer itself seems to downplay it, as it ends on a line from Sansa, repeating something her father said: “the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives”. But only a fool judges a show by its trailer. They wouldn’t have set up this storyline if it wasn’t significant.

Let’s not forget about Mystic Stark, the Branster. Season 6 ends with Cold Hand Benjen dropping him and Meera off near the wall, and in the trailer – shocker – he’s going through the gate. We also see him at a Godswood, but who knows if it’s the one by the wall, or the one at Winterfell. Bran is carrying a knowledge bomb, after all: that Jon is the bastard son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and thus the rightful heir to the Targaryen line, not Dany. Will Bran get to deliver this payload, and when? It seems almost too simple that he would team up with his remaining siblings and have a big group hug. But clearly, from the trailer, he’ll be needed to fight the Walkers by warging into crows and shit.

Just a little idea bubble: what if he tells Salsa about Jon’s parentage, and she keeps it to herself?

And then there’s Face-stealing Ninja Stark, Arya. At the end of last season she’s back in Westeros, having just thrown House Frey into disarray by assassinating its head and baking his two most likely successors into a pie. Is she part of the group hug too? Even if so, she’s got to get up to some other stuff – it sure will be dull if she hangs around saying, “yeah, good idea” to whatever Jon and Salsa say. I would expect some assassination missions instead, and the likely target is Cersei.

Before I move off the Starks, I’m a little curious about what will happen in the Riverlands, the war-torn area caught geographically between basically all the other areas (see map below). It was ruled by the Tullys until the Red Wedding put the Freys in charge, supported by the Lannisters. We just saw Jaime take Riverrun for that alliance in Season 6. The likely move is that Littlefinger and his army of Vale Knights kindly volunteer for the job of wresting the Riverlands from what’s left of House Frey. If Edmure Tully can be found, liberated and trusted, they could install him as a Stark-aligned leader. But will that ensnare the northern forces in the battles of the south? Riverrun is likely to get caught in some back-and-forth between Lannisters and Targaryens.

Final thought. Do we really think four Starks are going to make it to the finish line? I don’t. But I’m basically stumped at which ones are most likely to drop off. No, I don’t think Jon’s legendary status gives him plot armour; in fact, I think it makes him a liability. If you have thoughts, hit me up on twitter! Link in the footer.


GoT S7 Preview 1: Team Lannister
GoT S7 Preview 2: Team Targ
GoT S7 Preview 3: Team Stark
GoT S7 Preview 4: Team Rando

Game of Thrones S7 Preview Part 2: Team Targ

Welcome back to a bit of table-setting for the upcoming season of Game of Thrones. So far I’ve covered the Lannisters. Today we dragon.

There’s a lot in the trailer for the Targaryens. Dany lands in Dragonstone, engages with the Lannister forces, and fights a naval battle (maybe against Euron?) that looks like a Targaryen loss. Reading between the lines, it looks a lot like a secondary force led by Tyrion captures the Lannister home base of Casterly Rock, way over on the west side of Westeros, using Tyrion’s insider info. For all we know this could be Dragonstone or Storm’s End or some other eastern castle, but Tyrion did dangle the prospect of attacking Casterly Rock rather enticingly in Season 6.

And oh yeah, Drogon is fuckin’ HUUUUUGE now.

Dany’s inner struggle is two-sided. On one side she is the responsible, caring ruler, “Mhysa”. On the other, she is the vengeful, bloodthirsty conqueror (team slogan: Fire and Blood™). The responsible ruler, once getting the lay of the land in Westeros, would immediately go to the aid of the Northerners, who are fighting the true threat to the realm. Dragonfire would be invaluable against wights, and dragonglass – the obsidian that is mined on Dragonstone – is needed to kill the White Walkers. Not only that, there is a shot in the trailer of Jon and my boy Davos on a southern beach somewhere, which could indicate the Starks trying to forge an alliance with Dany for exactly that purpose.

I don’t think it’s gonna happen – at least, not this season.

Game of Thrones is full of villains becoming, if not heroes, then at least a lot more sympathetic to the average viewer. Think Jaime, or Theon. It’s a little light on heroes becoming villains. But think of how the Targaryen forces will be viewed when they show up in Westeros. You have the daughter of the infamous Mad King. She has actual dragons, which are the GoT equivalents of nuclear weapons. She has an army of slave soldiers, a number of mercenaries – of low repute in Westeros – plus the Dothraki, known for rape, pillage and enslavement, and a force of equally rapey Iron Islanders. Her main advisor is the infamous Tyrion Lannister, publicly considered a demon and blamed for killing his nephew, the king. Many Westerosi are going to see her as an invading villain – and are we so sure she isn’t? The lore of the show and books features a few occasions of “dances of dragons”, meaning rival Targaryen claimants destroying themselves fighting for the Iron Throne. Typically these feature a Blackfyre, whose sigil is a black dragon. Guess who else dresses in black and is kind of a dragon really? Right guys? In many ways the main point of the show is how we humans fight amongst ourselves while the real threat, environmental catastrophe, creeps inexorably closer. What could sum that up more perfectly than Dany and Jon fighting, despite being kin?

That said, Dany’s dark side, and Tyrion’s, gets a lot more play in the books than has happened in the show so far. I think Danny will waste a season torching up pretty much everyone in Westeros, but eventually she’ll come around.

GoT S7 Preview 1: Team Lannister
GoT S7 Preview 2: Team Targ
GoT S7 Preview 3: Team Stark
GoT S7 Preview 4: Team Rando

Game of Thrones S7 Preview Part 1: The Lannisters

I’m going to do episode recaps of GoT this season. Why? To see if I can, and plus I’m totally obsessing about it anyway.

Before we get there, I just want to go over where we stand before the season starts, what we can deduce from a close reading of the trailers released to date, what the books might hint about things, and where we might imagine things will be going.

So: don’t read this if you aren’t up to date in the show, or if you’re trying to avoid the trailers, you precious trembling jewel you.

I’m going to break this into separate posts by house. Let’s start with the Lannisters.

For your reference, here’s the latest trailer, which contains the most stuff:

Onwards!

Team Lannister

Cersei has eliminated all her enemies in King’s Landing, lost her remaining child, and taken the crown herself, with Jaime standing grimly by her. Now she must defend herself from her various external enemies: the Starks to the north, the Martells and Tyrells to the south, who are now allied with Dany Targaryen, who is closing in to the east. Plus we have Euron Greyjoy’s Iron Islands to the west. That said, smart money is on a Lannister-Greyjoy alliance, as in the trailer we see Greyjoy ships in King’s Landing, and they don’t look like they’re fighting. We do see multiple shots of Lannister forces fighting Targaryen-allied Unsullied and Dothraki. And we see a field of fire with Jaime galloping through it alone, not happily, which makes me suspect at least one battle goes poorly for the lions.

In the books, the witch’s prophecy about Cersei states that a) she will see all her children die and b) she will be killed by her brother. Given a) has borne out, if b) happens, which brother? In the books she assumes it’s Tyrion, but consider the irony if Jaime does it. It would make him a king-killing kinslayer twice over. What fresh atrocity must she be planning for him to go through with it? And how long does she have left?

My guess is Cersei lasts until the final season. This season we can look forward to Cersei taking on the Tyrells, Martells, and Dany. Think how nasty things are going to get between her and Tyrion, and how torn Jaime will be.

GoT S7 Preview 1: Team Lannister
GoT S7 Preview 2: Team Targ
GoT S7 Preview 3: Team Stark
GoT S7 Preview 4: Team Rando

Game of Thrones: HBO developing 4 different spinoffs

HBO is doubling down — no, quadrupling down — on its epic quest to replace Game of Thrones. The pay TV network is determined to find a way to continue the most popular series in the company’s history.

GRRM is involved with two of the four proposals.

Game of Thrones season 7 premiere date, teaser revealed

July 16. No new footage in the teaser