Game of Thrones “Eastwatch”

Game of Thrones S7E5 “Eastwatch”

Two episodes to go in the season and eight episodes to go in the entire series so it’s undeniable that we’re going full steam ahead towards the end game now. The pace has certainly picked up this season and no episode is a better example of this than “Eastwatch”. If you want to complain about “teleportation”, that’s on you because that ship has sailed (Insert Gendry joke here). Whether you like it or not, we’re skipping “travelling” scenes and I actually think this is for the best as season seven has probably been the most focused season of Game of Thrones since season one. All of that is fine and dandy, but it doesn’t mean that every single episode will be an action packed thriller like “The Spoils of War”. Believe it or not, “Eastwatch” is actually a table setting episode and at this point in the series, it’s a fair question to ask if this is the last table setting episode of the series. If it is, then “Eastwatch” delivered one hell of an episode, probably the best table setting episode of the series. “Eastwatch” is a dialogue heavy and thrilling hour of television as we get to see Jaime getting pushed near his limits with Cersei, Sam getting pushed past his limits with the maesters at the Citadel, Littlefinger playing his best move in ages, Tyrion executing a bold but necessary plan, the long awaited return of Gendry, and the formation of a team led by Jon to perform an extremely dangerous northern expedition. As you can tell, “Eastwatch” is a packed episode so let’s get right to it.

A lot of the featured plot lines are directly involved with other ones in this episode so let’s start with the loner of the group up at Winterfell. Arya’s finding that things aren’t quite as she would like them to be now that she’s home. She quietly watches Sansa deal with the complaints of the northern lords and those of the Vale, and there’s some stuff there that Arya doesn’t like hearing. Many of them are discontent with Jon’s extended trip outside the north and begin to ponder to Sansa that perhaps they should have made her Queen in the North when they had the chance. Sansa plays the diplomat and thanks them for their kindness but tells them Jon is King and he’s only doing what is in his people’s best interests. Arya doesn’t quite like that answer when talking to Sansa afterward and she accuses her sister of wanting the North for herself. Sansa is shocked Arya would think that of her and tells Arya that she has to play diplomat to keep Jon’s people faithful to him. I’m inclined to agree with Sansa here, there’s plenty of times where Arya’s killing skills could be used to good results but this isn’t one of them. Arya, Let Sansa do her political stuff. She may not be a computer like Bran, a resurrected King like Jon, or an assassin like you, but she is clearly the most politically adept of the group and she’s doing a great job.

Arya doesn’t have to look very far to find a use for her particular set of skills though. Littlefinger is sort of an unwanted necessity here in Winterfell, but if Arya can get some incriminating information on Littlefinger, they can finally get rid of him and keep the support of the Knights of the Vale at the same time. Arya gets to work on doing just that, stealthily tracking Littlefinger’s movements throughout the castle. After spending the better part of a day doing her spy work, it seems like it will all be for naught, but the mission is saved at the last minute. Littlefinger receives a letter from Maester Wolkan (one that Littlefinger is assured is the only copy) and he leaves it in his room before departing. Arya hasn’t come all this way for nothing though so she picks the lock to Littlefinger’s room and searches it for the letter. After much searching, Arya finds the letter inside an opening in Littlefinger’s mattress. The thing is, this isn’t a win for Arya. The camera stays on the letter for a brief moment but a quick pause will show you that this is the letter that Cersei forced Sansa to write in season one, asking Robb to bend the knee to Joffrey. Arya has no idea of the context of the letter though so this can cause some tension in their relationship. And that’s just what Littlefinger wants, seeing as he’s actually been the one spying on Arya the whole time. He planted this letter, wanting Arya to find it. If and when Arya turns on her sister for this, Littlefinger will probably win back the trust of Sansa. It’s a risky play, but it’s got a huge jackpot for Littlefinger if it works out. After spending nearly the entire season giving Sansa nonsensical speeches, Littlefinger is back with the classic scheming we know him for. It’ll be interesting to see how this latest scheme works out.

While everyone else is dealing with petty politics and schemes, Bran turns his eye to the real threat. Bran is on a warging trip and he’s getting quite good at that considering he hasn’t warged into a raven but actually a flock of ravens. We assume it’s been a long trip because Bran has flown his ravens beyond the wall and what awaits them is not a pretty sight. The army of the dead has grown even larger than before and they’re getting closer and closer to the Seven Kingdoms as Bran spots them just north of Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. Bran’s ravens are spotted by the Night King and that immediately breaks Bran’s warging state. Back in Winterfell, Bran tells a waiting Maester Wolkan that they need to send out ravens informing everyone of the Night King’s imminent arrival. I know these things have been on the march for years now, but now that we know they’re just north of Eastwatch, a sense of doom and urgency is here that we’ve never really seen before. The people of Westeros best be ready for the threat now that it’s on their doorstep, I know I sure am.

Word spreads quickly by raven and we spend some time in the Citadel, where a group of maesters has gathered to discuss the contents of Wolkan’s letter. As expected, the maesters don’t buy it. Sam is in the room doing some more busy work and is frustrated at their reaction to the letter so he vouches for Bran, saying there must be something to him if he survived years beyond the wall as a cripple. Archmaester Ebrose says the letter could be legitimate, but could also be a ploy by Daenerys to weaken her enemies by sending them to the wall. Sam pleads with Ebrose, saying that the white walker threat is real, he personally saw it, and the realm will band together if the maesters send out letters saying so. Ebrose says they’ll write to Wolkan, asking for clarification and then dismisses Sam to get back to his busy work.

Later that night, Sam’s at work, inscribing old works and is clearly frustrated that he’s recording a long dead person’s bowel movements instead of preparing for the Great War. All the while, Gilly is having a blast showing off her reading skills, reading seemingly useless facts. Sam unfortunately has a break down when Gilly actually reveals some important information (more on that later) and decides that his time studying at the Citadel has come to its end. Sam goes back into the library and takes every book he thinks might be useful and gives one last look at the library before leaving it behind. Sam meets Gilly and baby Sam waiting in a carriage. Gilly asks Sam if he’s sure he’s ready to give up on his studies and we see that Randyll Tarly does live on in some form through his “loser” son when Sam says he’s tired of reading about the accomplishments of better men. Sam takes the reigns and he and his family depart Oldtown.

After last week’s cliffhanger (sort of because Jaime is way too important to actually have died) we see Bronn drag Jaime out of the water and are left to assume the current took them far away from the battle. Bronn chastises Jaime for trying his stupid stunt, trying to kill Daenerys and tells him that no one has the right to kill him except him. Bronn is still waiting on that castle and if the Lannisters insist on delaying that, he’s got to keep them alive. Bronn does tell Jaime that he has a limit though. When Jaime wonders how they’re going to fight back against three dragons, Bronn tells Jaime that it’s his problem, because dragons is where he draws the line. Bronn’s always been a practical sellsword so this really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. We’ve never known Bronn to take the losing side of anything, and if one side has dragons, I’d find it hard to believe Bronn would side against the dragons, castle be damned. The two head back to King’s Landing, but this business relationship seems to be reaching its end.

While Jaime and Bronn were able to escape, most of the Lannister army wasn’t so lucky. The soldiers who didn’t get burned to death are quickly round up and wait for Daenerys to address them. Dany gives the survivors a choice, offering them the chance to bend the knee, or meet their death. The threat of Drogon is enough to make most people bend the knee but there are a few stragglers, among them the Tarlys. Daenerys calls Randyll Tarly forward and asks him why he won’t bend the knee. Randyll tells Dany that he already has a queen, but Tyrion calls him out for his quickness to change allegiances. Say what you will about Randyll, but he does bring up some good points in his defense, saying that Cersei was at least born and raised in Westeros, while Tyrion killed his own father, and has sided against his sister by supporting a foreign queen who brought foreign savages to the country. Things get even worse when Dickon stands by his father and refuses to bend the knee, much to the anger of Randyll. Tyrion tells Daenerys that putting them in cells, or sending them to the wall could be a good punishment, but Dany isn’t having any of that. Dany sentences the Tarlys to a fiery death and Drogon turns Lord Tarly and his heir into ashes. That spectacle convinces the remaining stragglers to bend the knee while Tyrion worries that the Targaryen madness in Daenerys is beginning to show.

Over on Dragonstone, Jon’s taking a walk, enjoying the beautiful scenery, but he’s interrupted by the return of Daenerys. Drogon landed a fair bit away from Jon but the dragon then decides to walk up to Jon, probably scaring the crap out of him. As Drogon gets closer and it becomes apparent he’s not going to burn him or eat him, Jon takes his hand out of his glove and slowly reaches his hand out to Drogon to pet him. In another wink at Jon’s heritage, Drogon allows Jon to pet him and Dany is intrigued at this to say the least.  Dany gets off Drogon and Drogon flies away to leave the two monarchs to themselves. Dany brings up the topic of Davos’ quote about the knife to the chest and Jon down plays it, saying Davos can exaggerate. Before Dany can push the issue any further, Jorah makes his return to Daenerys and in a season filled with reunions, this is one of the stronger ones. Jorah tells Dany that he found a cure and offers her his services once more. As expected, Dany accepts and we are given our final confirmation that she has forgiven Jorah for his spy work on her back in season one. Jorah finally gets his much earned redemption.

Elsewhere on the island, Varys and Tyrion take part in some drinking in what might be the former’s first time partaking and the latter’s first time in ages considering how much he used to drink. It’s certainly not a leisure drinking hour as the two friends worry about Daenerys maybe starting to slip into Mad Queen territory. Varys tells Tyrion he needs to make Dany listen to reason and that he has no excuse not to. Varys reflects on how he found himself in the same position as Tyrion, when Aerys was king. Aerys would show off his cruelties and while Varys would tell himself he’s not responsible for people burning alive, it wasn’t good enough.

While all this is going on. Varys receives the letter from Wolkan at Winterfell and everyone gathers around in the map room to discuss the news. Jon’s got no time to be happy at Arya and Bran being alive because Bran’s delivered some dire news. After reading that the Night King and his army are marching towards Eastwatch, Jon proclaims to all that he has to go home now to prepare his army. Dany questions Jon’s ability to win with just his army. Jon says he’ll fight with what he has, unless Dany decides to help him out. Dany’s not quite sold yet so she’s not going to abandon the war against Cersei. After seeing the cruelty of the war for the throne (and also believing Jon himself), Tyrion proposes a plan. If they can provide proof of the army of the dead to Cersei, they could probably suspend hostilities and put all three armies together to fight the dead. Bringing Cersei to the dead is never going to happen so the group agrees someone is going to have to bring a wight to her. Jorah offers to go north and take one but the mission is far too dangerous for one person. The free folk would probably help but they wouldn’t listen to Jorah, so Jon decides to lead the expedition. Varys wisely points out that getting a wight is useless if Cersei doesn’t agree to peacefully meet with them. Tyrion is confident in his ability to convince Jaime to convince Cersei to grant them an audience, but he’s going to need to get into King’s Landing in secret. It’s a good thing that Jon’s right hand man is a world renowned smuggler isn’t it? Davos agrees to smuggle Tyrion into the capital and the two depart on this risky mission.

We’ll rewind a bit and examine the happenings in King’s Landing. Jaime arrives home and immediately goes to Cersei to tell her they’re fighting a lost cause. Everything Jaime says to convince Cersei to quit is true, but Cersei also has her fair points. Does Jaime think Daenerys will let them live if they surrender? Jaime isn’t really going to get his way here because the topic of Tyrion comes up and Jaime spills the beans that Olena was the one to kill Joffrey, not Tyrion. As you may recall, Jaime talked Cersei down from painful death for Olena to a painless one. Now that Cersei knows that Jaime gave a painless death to the murderer of their child, he’s going to be in the doghouse for a while.

Sometime later, Bronn leads Jaime into the basements of the Red Keep for “sword training”. Jaime is right to question Bronn as to why they’re training here because they’re not, Bronn’s here to bring Jaime to see Tyrion. Bronn takes his leave when the brothers meet and the meeting is tense to say the least. Jaime is still upset at Tyrion for killing Tywin and while Tyrion does defend himself pretty well, Jaime doesn’t really want to hear it, insisting that he get to the reason he’s here. That part of the meeting is off screen but we all know what Tyrion asked his brother for. We get confirmation of it when Jaime tells Cersei of Tyrion’s proposal afterward. Cersei agrees to it, but she doesn’t seem interested in joining forces. The way she brings up Tywin makes you think she’s setting up a red wedding type event but let’s hope not.

While Tyrion’s taking care of business, Davos has his own business to take care of as well. This business you ask? It’s only a main character who’s been gone three and a half seasons. If you guessed Gendry, you’d be correct. The bastard son of Robert Baratheon finally makes his return, and he took Davos’ advice to return to the capital. Davos finds Gendry at his own shop, and he’s been smithing for the Lannisters during his show absence. Davos wants to bring Gendry with him but he’s surprised at how eager Gendry is to tag along. Gendry says he’s tired of making weapons for the family that killed his father and he’s been waiting years for the right time to leave, and he knows this is it. Davos warns him there’s going to be violence but that doesn’t seem to be a problem as Gendry pulls out a hammer and tells Davos he’s quite good at using it. Satisfied, Davos says it’s time to leave and the two depart for the boat.

Davos and Gendry make it back to their boat and wait out for Tyrion, but it’s not him who they see. Some guards stop by and question them and Davos puts his smuggling skills on display. If you’re going to lie, you’ve got to commit to the lie and that’s what Davos does. The story of Davos the fermented crab salesman is a hilarious one and more importantly for Davos, a believable one. After a bribe and some sampling, the guards decide to leave Davos alone, but things are never that easy. Tyrion is making his way back to the beach at the exact moment the guards are leaving and no matter what you do, being a dwarf is going to raise suspicion. Davos tries to bribe the guards again to leave Tyrion alone but Gendry decides to take things into his own hands and gives both guards a hammer to the head. Gendry’s not lying, he can really swing that thing.

The trio makes their way back to Dragonstone and when they arrive, Davos tells Gendry to keep his heritage to himself. Gendry decides against that and introduces himself to Jon as Gendry, bastard son of Robert Baratheon. Gendry reasons that their fathers trusted each other so they should do the same. The scene definitely calls back to Ned and Robert and I’m glad Gendry decided to tell the truth because it made for a great scene. Gendry asks to be a part of Jon’s mission and Jon allows it after being told Gendry knows how to fight for himself. Final preparations are made and before you know it, it’s time for Jon, Jorah, Davos, and Gendry to leave Dragonstone. Dany shares a goodbye with Jorah that feels like a final goodbye (let’s hope not) and shares a goodbye with Jon that tags along with the rest of their scenes as one filled with romantic undertones. Jon wishes Daenerys good luck in the wars to come and he and his group depart for Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.

We cap off this well-traveled episode with Jon and his group actually making it to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. Tormund welcomes them and listens to Jon’s plan, and he isn’t a fan of it. Tormund tells Jon that he’s not the only one trying to go beyond the wall and leads them down to the prison cells where we see Sandor Clegane, Beric Dondarrion, and Thoros of Myr have been arrested. At this point we have a pretty large group and it becomes apparent that everyone has a reason to dislike each other and the thing could have easily devolved into a shouting contest. Beric plays the mediator and says they’re all here for the same reason. He starts to deliver a speech but Sandor cuts him off in the way only he can and asks Jon if they’re coming with him or not. Jon says that they are, since they are all on the same team. The gate opens and the northern expedition team comprised of Jon Snow, Tormund Giantsbane, Jorah Mormont, Gendry, Sandor Clegane, Beric Dondarrion, and Thoros of Myr walk into the snowy tundra beyond the wall.

Other Thoughts

So what are we thinking of for nicknames for the expedition team? I like the Fellowship of the King.

Tormund really is in love. “Did you bring the big woman?” Hopefully Brienne returns the feelings someday.

Davos is staying behind at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea in case you were wondering. He’s not much of a fighter you know.

I’m glad to see Gendry has taken pride in his father. That hammer of his is awesome and it’s even got antlers on it from the sigil for House Baratheon. The color scheme is also inverted, as it should be for a bastard. Now this is a son Robert would be proud of.

I haven’t minded the quicker pace this season for the most part, but Bronn had to have met with Tyrion beforehand in order to bring Jaime to see him. Having the Bronn and Tyrion reunion take place off screen to save time was kind of a bummer, those two were awesome together.

So what do we make of Cersei being pregnant? If she’s telling the truth, I don’t see the kid making it out alive and well. The Maggy the Frog flashback to start season five said that Cersei would only have three kids. For a show that uses flashbacks so sparingly, I don’t see them using one as a misdirect.

So, Gilly kind of low key told the audience that Jon Snow is actually the legitimate child of Rhaegar Targaryen. She said Rhaegar got an annulment (Rhaegar was married to Elia Martell) and got married again (presumably to Lyanna Stark) in a ceremony in Dorne (which checks out because the Tower of Joy is in Dorne). With Sam’s stress levels already being through the roof and Gilly mispronouncing Rhaegar as “Ragger”, the importance of this discovery probably didn’t even register with Sam so I’m not going to blame him. That book is coming with them so Sam will probably redeem himself in that regard later. We can only hope Jon finds out by season’s end but I don’t see Jon returning to Winterfell until season eight, so we might have to wait.

After taking 34 episodes off, Gendry probably has the longest gap between appeared in episodes for a starring cast member. And I still can’t believe that Davos went with the rowing joke. A very subtle fourth wall joke but Davos is the best person on the show to pull something like that off.

The irony of Gendry saying that he and Jon’s father’s trusted each other. Adopted father sure. Gendry’s dad kind of killed Jon’s biological dad though.

Where are the Greyjoys? Yara and Euron are probably taking a bye until Theon becomes relevant again, but he should have been in this episode. The whole reason he came back to Dragonstone was to ask Daenerys to help him save Yara. She came back, and was there long enough for Davos and Tyrion to return from their field trip to King’s Landing. Surely that was enough time to ask her.

This season has been pretty light so far on killing people. Bronn probably should have died last episode and with this northern expedition next episode, I guess we’ll see if they were saving some deaths for later or are just scared to kill people off at this point. I’m expecting at least 2 deaths so if we only get one, I’m assuming they’re now scared to pull the trigger.

“Eastwatch” delivers the best table setting episode of Thrones to date, highlighted by Gendry’s return, a return to prominence for Littlefinger, a huge revelation about Jon’s heritage, and the formation of the Fellowship of the King.

Grade A

 

 

 

 

 

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