Game of Thrones S7E3 “The Queen’s Justice”
As we approach the midway point of season seven, the pace of the season has really kicked into high gear. Little doubt is left in my mind that the battles at Casterly Rock and Highgarden could have made for season climaxes in previous seasons, yet here they seem to just be smaller details in a grander story. We’re moving along quite fast now and when that happens, it’s common for the action and events to take center stage. This is not the case though, and the show is better for it. Fast or slow, Game of Thrones has always been at its best when developing characters and letting characters just talk things out. “The Queen’s Justice” returns towards the show’s strengths by devoting half of its run time to the meeting that’s been years in the making, the meeting of Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, the meeting of ice and fire. Never has a meeting had so much anticipation in this show and “The Queen’s Justice” delivers an entirely believable and gripping conversation between the queen with too many titles to count and the King in the North and it’ll be exciting to see where it goes from here. In addition to the long awaited meeting between Jon and Dany, we also got to see Cersei administer justice to Ellaria, Archmaester Ebrose administer a “reward” to Sam, a masterful bait and switch by Jaime, and the Queen of Thorns dominate the screen yet again, even on her deathbed. All that and more, starting now.
We start the episode at Dragonstone, where Jon and Davos have just arrived and are greeted my Tyrion and Missandei. The group exchanges pleasantries as they walk up the stairs to the castle, but they are interrupted by one of Dany’s dragons flying very close to ground level, causing Jon and Davos to hit the ground in fear. Tyrion remarks that one never quite gets used to the dragons and leads the way into the castle. Jon and Davos are lead into the throne room where they find Daenerys waiting on her throne. The differences between Dany and Jon start immediately and it starts with the introductions. Missandei introduces Daenerys and her ridiculously large amount of titles while Davos simply introduces Jon as King in the North, and probably only did so to end the awkward silence that was ensuing. Dany thanks them for their arrival to Dragonstone but Davos objects when she calls Jon “my lord” rather than “your grace”. Dany then reminds Davos that Torrhen Stark was King in the North but he bent the knee to Aegon Targaryen, an oath to be held for the rest of time. Dany then asks if Jon is here to likewise bend the knee but Jon says he isn’t. Dany accuses him of breaking faith between their houses but Jon says Dany’s family has already done that first, when her father burned his grandfather and uncle alive. Dany acknowledges that her father was an evil man and formally apologizes to Jon, asking him not to judge her for her father’s actions. Jon agrees not to do so but also adds that he shouldn’t be held to his ancestor’s oaths.
Frustrated that Jon hasn’t come to bend the knee, Dany goes off on a tangent, talking about her army, her accomplishments, and her destiny as queen of the seven kingdoms. Jon cuts to the point as well, saying that if she doesn’t listen to him, she’ll be ruling over a graveyard. Jon then tells Dany about the white walkers, the army of the dead, and how they’re on the march and heading their way. It becomes apparent that Jon hasn’t really sold the story so Davos comes to the rescue here, proving why he’s the best hype man in the seven kingdoms. Davos goes off listing Jon’s accomplishments, including his numerous times being chosen leader with no birthright whatsoever, making an historical alliance between the northerners and the free folk, and even mentioning that Jon took a knife the heart but gets cut off by Jon before he can complete that story. Davos ends the speech by saying that if they all don’t come together, they’ll all be dead and it won’t matter who sits on the iron throne. Tyrion still doesn’t see the point of refusing to bend the knee and tells Jon that if he does, they’ll fight the dead after taking care of Cersei. Jon says that there’s no time to make the army of the dead a second priority and reiterates that he has no reason to bend the knee. The conversations seems to be taking a turn for the worse but before it can escalate, Varys inadvertently diffuses the situation by telling Dany that he has grave news and that she should dismiss her guests. Dany does just that and when Jon asks if he and Davos are prisoners, Dany replies “not yet”, wrapping up this rather unproductive first meeting between these two.
While this grave news is new to Dany, it’s not to us, as Varys informs Dany of Euron’s surprise naval attack and how it decimated the Greyjoy’s and the Martells. Dany is quickly running out of allies and Tyrion knows this. He also knows that a powerful potential ally has come to their front door but things didn’t start out so well. Trying to get things going in the right direction, Tyrion decides to meet with Jon one on one. Jon laments that he’s a fool for coming down here and that he is for all intents and purposes, a prisoner. While Tyrion admits that he himself believes Jon about the white walkers, Dany probably doesn’t. She isn’t a monster though, and Tyrion says if Jon has a “reasonable” request, Dany will probably consent to it. Jon asks for permission to mine the mountain of dragonglass on the island and Tyrion forwards his request to Dany. Tyrion convinces her to allow it, saying it could lead to them becoming allies, which they now find themselves in short supply of. Jon hears the news from Dany herself and thanks her for giving him men and resources for the mining process. They’re still at a standstill politically but this is certainly a good start towards a productive relationship between the rightful Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and the King in the North. Hopefully more positive steps will follow.
We check in on Oldtown with everyone’s favorite greyscale victim and everyone’s favorite amateur doctor. Sam’s very first surgery seems to be a complete success, Archmaester Ebrose examines Jorah and finds the infection is gone. Ebrose allows Jorah to leave the citadel but informs Sam that he wants to see him later on, obviously knowing that he played a role in this miraculous turnaround. Sam asks Jorah where he plans to go and Jorah tells Sam of his loyalty to Daenerys and how his place is by her side. The two then share a goodbye and Sam puts his hand out for a handshake. Other than being the common goodbye, this is the first human contact Jorah has had with anyone in years. Jorah accepts the handshake and it must feel amazing to have such a common aspect of human life back. Jorah owes Sam in a huge way, we’ll see if and how that gets played out later on.
Later on Sam has his meeting with Ebrose and prepares for the worst. As expected, Ebrose knows that Sam performed the surgery on Jorah and asks Sam who gave him permission to do so, knowing full well Sam will have to admit that he forbade him to do it. Ebrose does congratulate him though and says a man is alive who shouldn’t be, thanks to him. He “congratulates” Sam by having him copy down some old, rotten, termite infested manuscripts. Sam was expecting some kind of reward surely but Archmaester Ebrose tells him his reward for performing a highly risky and illegal surgery is not being immediately expelled from the citadel. Sam’s been through worse though, at least he’s not cleaning up poop.
A stop by Winterfell shows us that Sansa is taking this whole ruling thing in stride. As she walks the castle with her advisors, she points out things that are completely true and are being overlooked by everyone except her. Littlefinger compliments her on ruling ability and tells her to prepare for every single possible outcome rather than just having one focus. This is the first time all season Sansa seemed to be listening to Littlefinger rather than just tuning him out but the conversation gets interrupted when a guard informs Sansa that there’s a guest at the gate.
Sansa rushes to the courtyard to see who the guest is and she can hardly believe her eyes when she sees Bran for the first time in years. She rushes to her brother and embraces him. The two siblings are sitting in the godswood sometime later and both wish that Jon was here. Sansa tells Bran that he’s the Lord of Winterfell now but Bran renounces this, saying he can only be the three eyed raven. Sansa doesn’t know what that means and Bran doesn’t exactly do a great job of explaining things. To show off his power, Bran picks Sansa’s most traumatic memory and recalls to Sansa the details of her wedding night to Ramsay. Thoroughly creeped out, Sansa decides to head back to the castle while Bran decides to stay a while longer. This sibling reunion is getting off on the wrong foot to say the least.
While Dany struggles to get a win in this war for the throne, Cersei is taking win after win, and to the victor goes the spoils. Cersei gets some pretty big spoils when Euron returns to the King’s Landing with Ellaria and Tyene Sand as his prisoners. He presents them to Cersei in the throne room, and she can hardly maintain her excitement. Thoroughly satisfied, Cersei agrees to marry Euron once the war is over. Cersei publicly announces Jaime as the commander of their army and Euron the commander of the navy but these newly appointed commanders aren’t really getting along. Things are only made worse when Euron mockingly asks Jaime for sexual advice about Cersei, agitating an already irate Jaime even more. These brother in laws to be aren’t getting along very well.
Following the festivities, Cersei turns her attention towards revenge. How do you administer justice on someone who’s killed your daughter? That’s the question Cersei grapples with and her cruelty is on full display with her decision. Ellaria and Tyene are gagged and chained to opposite sides of a dungeon while Cersei reminisces about the events that brought them all together, openly mocking Ellaria with how Oberyn caused his own demise. Cersei tells Ellaria that she’s been waiting for this moment and contemplating what she would do with her once she was hers. Cersei’s punishment is crueler than you’d expect. I thought she would go down the Mountain route but death via the mountain would be “much too fast”. Instead, Cersei kisses Tyene on the lips and reveals that her lipstick was covered with the same poison Ellaria used to kill Myrcella. Qyburn enters the room and hands Cersei the antidote. After drinking it, Cersei asks how long the poison will take to do its thing and Qyburn says the timeframe is uncertain but that death is most definitely certain. Cersei reveals to Ellaria that she will watch Tyene slowly die and slowly rot away and there will be no way of getting out of it. Ellaria will be force fed as to avoid suicide by starvation and the torches will be changed frequently so she won’t miss a single minute of her daughter dying. Cersei leaves the room, proud of what she’s done while Ellaria and Tyene struggle to comfort each other, the chains allowing them to come agonizingly short of reaching each other. Ellaria and the Sand Snakes have done some awful things but the pain of watching your own child die is an awful one, and it’s one Ellaria is going to slowly watch unfold. No one deserves that.
The next day, Cersei receives a visitor that we’ve seen before but not particularly recently. The Iron Bank has sent Tycho Nestoris to meet with Cersei and explain where the Iron Bank stands with the current state of affairs. It seems as though the Iron Bank is ready to back Daenerys over Cersei and much as expected, Cersei isn’t having any of that. Cersei manages to convince Tycho to give them one more chance. She invites Tycho to stay in King’s Landing for a fortnight, and by the end of it, the crown’s debt to the Iron Bank will be paid in full.
After that scene, a fair question to ask would be how exactly does Cersei plan on securing the funds in a fortnight? Luckily for us, that question gets answered in the very same episode. As you may recall, Casterly Rock’s gold mines ran dry years ago, and the Unsullied are on their way to attack the Rock. Rather than defend a castle that has no practical use, Jaime pulls out all but a miniscule percentage of the Lannister troops from the Rock and basically lets the Unsullied take the castle unopposed. Grey Worm quickly realizes that something is up and asks a Lannister soldier where the rest of his army is. From the top of the battlements, Grey Worm looks out to the sea to see Euron’s fleet destroying their ships, leaving them in an awful position. To make matters even worse, the Lannister army took most of the food supply with them, leaving the Unsullied stranded and hungry, with no choice but to leave the Rock and march on land, leaving them ridiculously vulnerable.
So where did the Lannister army go? Jaime, with Bronn and Randyll Tarly at his side march on Highgarden, a castle with much more value considering its surplus of food and tremendous wealth. It seems as though most of the Reach’s soldiers defected with Randyll so the once great Tyrell army has been brought down to literally just the men of House Tyrell, which isn’t much, and they aren’t even great fighters to begin with. The Battle of Highgarden isn’t much of a battle and the Lannisters take it rather easily. Jaime walks to the top of the castle to take care of the last of House Tyrell, Lady Olena. Olena seems to have accepted reality here and asks if her army at least fought well, with Jaime admitting they fought as well as could be expected. Olena is one of the smartest people we’ve seen on this show and she knows Jaime is here to kill her, so she asks him how it will be done. She wonders if it’ll be from a swing of the sword. She recognizes that Jaime is wearing Widow’s Wail, Joffrey’s old sword, and she reminisces about how much of a cunt Joffrey was. Jaime’s at a loss for words because he knows she’s right. Olena once again asks how she will die and Jaime says he talked Cersei out of her many humiliating and painful ideas, she will instead die by poison. Olena asks if there will be pain to which Jaime assures her that there won’t be. Olena gulps down her poisoned wine and decides to steal the show one last time, Olena reveals to Jaime that she was responsible for the poisoning of Joffrey and her final request is that Jaime tell Cersei of this. It’s a brilliant move by Olena because it hurts Jaime where it hurts the most and he’s got no way to retaliate since she’s on her death clock anyway. A shocked and frustrated Jaime has no choice but to leave the room, leaving Olena to die on her own. Even in a scene in which Jaime took Olena’s castle and effectively killed her, Olena still won the scene, and you expect nothing less from the Queen of Thorns. Rest in Peace Lady Olena. You truly were one of the better characters on the show, you won’t be soon forgotten.
So Theon got rescued by one of Yara’s ships that managed to survive the battle. His decision to jump didn’t earn Theon any support from his saviors. They’re probably heading back to Dragonstone and I for one hope that Jon gets to see Theon. Let’s just say Jon has a lot to talk about with Theon.
More subtle references to Jon’s parentage in this episode. A dragon immediately flying by Jon as soon as he says that he’s not a Stark is one. Dany saying she’s the last Targaryen is another. The subtlest of the day is probably when Dany says everyone likes doing what they’re good at but Jon says he doesn’t. Jon doesn’t like killing. Neither did his father Rhaegar. That certainly struck a chord with Dany but these two obviously have no way of knowing that Rhaegar is Jon’s father. That reveal will come though, and it’s going to be a gamechanger.
Dany’s initial reluctance to believe Jon about the army of the dead is frustrating for sure. Dany is the person who’s walked out of a fire unharmed twice, made fossilized eggs hatch into live dragons, and spent time in Qarth, home of the bizarre warlocks and their common sense defying House of Undying. She even saw a vision of the throne room destroyed and filled with snow. Might this be because of the white walkers and her not taking the threat seriously? Probably, and the point being, if Dany has seen and experienced all of this magic, why is an army of the dead so hard to believe?
I don’t want to say a lot about the passage of time here because that’ll open a can of worms so we’ll just make a joke here. Missandei listing off Dany’s titles was probably longer than Jon and Davos’ trip to Dragonstone. Davos announcing Jon’s one title was hilarious though.
So Melisandre looks like she might be taking the rest of the season off with this trip to Volantis that she’s taking. She’s far too important to leave forever though and she knows this. She creepily tells Varys that they will both die in Westeros. I did like the line she had though saying she brought ice and fire together.
Sam and Jorah pretending to be clueless during Ebrose’s examination was great humor. The climate and lots of rest cured Jorah if we’re to believe him. Ebrose is a smart fellow so maybe they should have went with a better lie than that.
Littlefinger’s season seven arc has left a lot to be desired but his little speech in this episode is the first one that didn’t strike me as pure nonsense. Instead of saying be prepared, he said anticipate every single possible situation. Bran can see every single possible situation can’t he? Littlefinger won’t be able to account for Bran being the three eyed raven. If Bran sees that Littlefinger betrayed Ned back in season one, his time might be coming to an end. Littlefinger is a master manipulator, but how in the hell could he get out of that?
The Bran Sansa reunion fell kind of flat compared to the wonderful Sansa and Jon reunion, and I’m going to blame Bran on that one. He didn’t even hug his sister! We know Bran’s powers and we know he could have picked a less disturbing memory of Sansa’s to show off his power to her but maybe that insensitivity comes with being the three eyed raven. The old three eyed raven wasn’t an emotional dude and he even admitted that Bran wasn’t ready to become him yet. Perhaps seeing all of that information before he was ready for it dehumanized him.
Got to love Tyrion’s days as a plumber coming back to be useful. Tywin’s punishment for his son helped his son take the castle that he would never in a million years hand to him. The irony.
Those manuscripts Sam has to copy look mighty old. Maybe Ebrose actually is rewarding Sam and he’ll find something pertaining to the white walkers in those manuscripts.
Jon didn’t want Davos to tell Dany about his death and resurrection but it’s only a matter of time until she does find out. She saw Jon cut Davos off from telling the rest of it but she’s clearly curious about it.
More and more season one call backs in this episode and those have been some of the best things about season seven so far. Today’s call back winner is Tyrion quoting Bronn’s “give me ten good men and I’ll impregnate the bitch”.
Speaking of Bronn, he showed up but didn’t speak in the episode. Let’s work on getting him some lines next week. A speechless Bronn is a waste of Bronn.
So this episode seems to confirm that Cersei gets turned on by torturing people. It more explicitly shows that Cersei is fine with her incest being public information while Jaime still isn’t keen on the idea.
Olena was dropping truth bombs about Cersei to Jaime throughout that final conversation. You have to wonder if we’re finally getting to the point where Jaime will swear off Cersei.
Dany’s taking loss after loss. I think dragon time is drawing closer, and I for one can’t wait to see it.
Euron continues to prove his worth as a villain here. He’s winning quote of the day with the “finger in the bum” comment. How many times can he roast Jaime?
“The Queen’s Justice” delivers the very first meeting between Ice and Fire and strongly hints at an alliance between the two as Cersei continues to devastate Daenerys’ forces.