I’ll say it upfront: I did not like this episode of Game of Thrones. This season really has been every other episode for me, and it has a lot to do with the insane pacing of the show now. Time and space aren’t consistent anymore, and so this episode involved a lot of people zooming around Westeros setting everyone up to be in position for next week where Big Things will happen beyond the wall.
That being said, there were some good moments so let’s dive in and talk about “Eastwatch”!
“Eastwatch” started off where we left last week, at the battlefield just after Dany’s victory where, unsurprisingly, Jamie is not dead. He and Bronn emerge on the other side of the lake from the battle, and Bronn immediately rips into Jamie for charging at a dragon. Granted, this was a stupid thing to do, but I had a hard time believing his anger because although Bronn is friends with Jamie he has always put himself first. He’s apparently concerned because Jamie hasn’t fufilled his end of the bargain they struck, declares that he draws the line of his loyalty at dragons, and bids Jamie good luck in telling his sister.
Tyrion walks across the battlefield, gazing upon the horrifying damage that Drogon has wrought as the Dothraki raid what spoils are left from the bodies. This was a nice moment. You can tell that Tyrion is seriously considering what he’s signed himself up for and who he has sworn to follow.
Dany, flanked beautifully by Drogon, confronts the Lannister forces that she just beat in battle. She gathers the survivors in front of her and demands that they bend the knee. Lord Tarly refuses, as does Dickon. In response, and to Tyrion’s dismay, Dany commands Drogon to burn them both alive. This execution scene was… not fun. It’s been set up for a while that Dany’s worst tendencies mirror those of the Mad King. However, instead of following maniacal whims, Dany is convincedwhat she is doing was fair and just. After all, she gave them a choice. But at the same time, this execution followed a big speech about how she wants to build a better world. The huge caveat here is that if you’re not on board with her specific better world, you die. It seems hypocritical. We also didn’t really know the Tarly well enough to make this moment feel like anything when they died. As much as I don’t want a character I know and love to die this way, the moment would have had more weight if someone we knew better was the one to get roasted. I think this does mean that Sam is now the leader of his house, so maybe something will come of that.
Upon returning to Kings Landing, Jamie finds a calmly angry Cersei. She’s furious, but also desperate, and suggests buying mercenaries with the Tyrell gold. Jamie is insistent that no one can stand a chance against the Dothraki let alone a dragon, but his sister refuses to surrender. Jamie also delivers the news of Olena’s last confession. He seems to sort of side with Olena, at the very least he brings up the point that Joffrey was a monster, and asks “would YOU rather see your daughter marry Joffrey or Tommen?” You can tell that Cersei hears what Jamie is saying, but she refuses to listen.
At Dragonstone, Dany returns and lands in front of Jon on the cliffs overlooking the sea. Jon has a really cool moment with Drogon where he reaches out and touches his face as Drogon makes a sound that sounds an awful lot like a purr. It’s definitely the closest that Drogon has let anyone but Dany come to him, and given all that we know of Jon’s ancestry, it’s not surprising. I want to see him ride a dragon soon. Regardless, both Dany and Jon seems confused and astounded about what just happened but play it off rather well. Dany brings up again how the dragons are her children, and Jon seems pretty confused about this as well. He’s also not sure how he feels about Dany’s victory. According to her, they both want to help people, need strength to do so, and sometimes strength is terrible. She then confronts Jon about Davos’s earlier comment about taking a knife to the heart. Jon tries to brush it off but their conversation is stopped by Jorah’s return.
Jorah’s reunion with Dany was very touching, after all when they last said goodbye to each other they had assumed it was for forever. I did also think that it was funny to see Jon and Jorah glare at each other, but I have always and continue to find Jorah’s unrequited love for Dany creepy.
At Winterfell, Bran wargs into some ravens and flies over to Eastwatch By The Sea. As the ravens go beyond the wall they find the army of the dead marching towards it and once again the Night King seems to be able to sense Bran through the ravens. I’m curious to see if this connection is ever addressed and explained more fully. Anyway, Bran immediately calls for ravens to be sent to warn of the army’s approach.
Also at Winterfell, Sansa is being beset by northern lords and the Knights of the Vale who support her claim to the north over Jon’s. Arya watches from afar as the lords complain to Sansa and later confronts her about it. According to Arya, Sansa always liked to feel better than other people. She might not like it, but she is wondering if maybe she would be a better ruler than Jon.
I hated this scene so much. Arya and Sansa seem to have regressed into the roles they played when they were last together in Season One, squabbling sisters. After everything that they have gone through, to see them argue instead of talking and trusting each other is infuriating.
Back at Dragonstone, Tyrion and Varys drink and discuss the problem of Dany burning people all willy nilly. They again draw parallels between her behavior to that of the Mad King. Tyrion claims that he can only advise Dany, not make decisions for her, but Varys insists that what Tyrion is telling himself now is what he told himself when the Mad King burned people alive: “I’m not the one doing it”. Dany is not her father, but she does need someone to check her worst instincts.
Elsewhere Jon has received one of the ravens from Bran. In this letter, he finds out that Arya and Bran are both alive, which must have been quite a shock. However, he remains focused on his goal to defend the north. As Dany also remains determined not to give the land she has just claimed in Westeros up to Cersei by marching her armies north, they seem to be at an impasse.
Tyrion finds a “solution” by coming up with the worst plan I have ever heard. Ever. They decide that Cersei needs to be convinced of the dead’s existence. So they are going to smuggle Tyrion into Kings Landing to meet with Jamie to set up a future meeting with their sister. At this hypothetical future meeting, they will show her one of the wights. Which, they are going to send a group of people including Jorah and Jon up north of The Wall to get and bring back to Kings Landing.Like I said, stupidest plan of all time.
However, there was one bit of dialogue that I really loved. As Jon declares his intention to go north of The Wall, Dany says “I didn’t give you permission to leave”. Jon replies, (And here I’m paraphrasing) “With respect, I don’t need it. I’m a king. I put my trust in you, now do the same for me”. It was great and pretty sexy.
At the Citadel we find Sam bringing books to a group of measters who have also received a message from Bran. They scoff over the message and Sam interrupts them. After all, Sam is the one who helped Bran go beyond the wall all those years ago, and he mentions that perhaps we ought to listen to a cripple who was able to survive beyond the wall for years against all odds. He brings up that everybody in Westeros respects the Citadel’s judgment, and if they do nothing in response to this letter that it morally irresponsible. Unfortunately, the maesters do not believe him. Sam leaves, and we find out that they haven’t even told Sam about his father and brother’s deaths yet. The maesters there really seem like a bunch of pompous jerks.
Later as Sam is working and Gilly is reading aloud from a maester’s diary, she shares that this maester annulled Rhaegar Targaryen’s marriage to Elia Martell and married him to someone else (presumably Lyanna Stark). This is a big deal, because it would mean that their child (Jon) would be the legitimate heir to the Iron Throne, but the moment is swept away as Sam decides to steal as many books as he can carry and head back north to Winterfell.
Back at Kings Landing, Davos smuggles Tyrion into the city and goes off the find… Gendry! Gendry is back, has made himself a warhammer similar to that of his father’s and decorated with a Baratheon stag, and ready to leave his life in the forge for whatever adventure Davos has to offer. This seemed slightly fan-servicey to me, especially Davos’s joke about “I thought you’d still be rowing” but I am curious to see what they do with the character, especially now that he is leaning so hard into his Baratheon heritage.
In the basement of the castle among the dragon skulls, Bronn leads Jamie to a surprise meeting with his brother. This entire meeting was fantastic. The acting was spectacular, and Tyron convinces Jamie to set up a meeting with their sister.
Jamie immediately goes to find Cersei and she reveals that she is pregnant! She also reveals that she knew about Jamie’s secret meeting, and she is not happy about it. There seems to be a lot of speculation that she is faking a pregnancy, but I chalk any uncertainty over this to be the fault of the rushed pace of the season. Had there been a normal amount of episodes, I think that the progression of this would have had time to play out. However, I do not think that she will carry this baby to term. Maggie’s prophesy said that Cersei would have three children (and honestly they should have cut back to it in the “previously on” segment) and all three of Cersei’s children have already died. So now the question for me is if Cersei dies before giving birth or suffer a miscarriage. I think the latter, and I think that it will be thing thing that truly breaks her.
Finally, Jon, Davos, Jorah, and Gendry make it to Eastwatch where they reunite with Tormund and find Thoros of Myr, Beric Dondarrion, and The Hound waiting in a cell. After a round of “hey I know you from somewhere!” it’s recognized that they basically all hate each other. However, Jon declares that they need to get past their differences because they’re all fighting against the dead. The episode ends with the Magnificent Seven/Avengers/choose your pop culture reference here heading out beyond the wall.
I will say, the last shot was pretty epic. Here’s my favorite fan tribute from the episode, enjoy:
My biggest gripe with this episode is that time and space have seemed to have officially stopped meaning anything. Specifically, it seems like it doesn’t take any time to get anywhere and it really bothers me. The other thing that bothered me was the title, which seemed misleading to me. Yes, we end up at Eastwatch, and yes the entire episode was basically just checking things off a list to get all the characters there, but it just doesn’t fit with the episode at large.
Two other quick notes. One, Jorah’s new costumes are amazing. Two, so many people said “I knew your dad!” in this episode, and it was fun to remember how complicated the loyalties of these characters are.