‘Game of Thrones’: The song of ice and fire just got adequately turnt
Season Seven, Episode Three — “The Queen’s Justice”
By Jarrod Jones. We begin this week’s recap of Game of Thrones with a heartfelt nod towards the Queen of Thorns herself, Lady Olenna Tyrell. Westeros could never contain you, we certainly didn’t deserve you, and now you are gone, your legacy forever one of wit, figs, and cunning.
Lady Olenna got the last word on Jaime Lannister before her timely demise, because of course she did, in an episode designed to further tie up any loose ends before Queen Cersei finally faces Queen Dany on the field of battle. Cersei sent her pet brother and a rather large army to Highgarden just to remind Lady Tyrell what happens when you wound a lion, not really expecting much to come from it other than a petty satisfaction that the Rose had finally withered into nothing.
Keep in mind, Cersei was sacking Highgarden largely out of spite before the end of the episode. The Tyrells had been in open rebellion against the Iron Throne, yes, but Cersei’s beef with Olenna was a famously personal one. (I wonder if there’s a sizzle reel of every burn Olenna ever directed towards Cersei since Season Three. There definitely should be.) And that was before Olenna dropped the hammer on Jaime’s dopey face at the end of Sunday night.
“I’d hate to die like your son. Clawing at my neck, foam and bile spilling from my mouth, eyes blood red, skin purple. It must have been horrible for you, as a Kingsguard, as a father,” she admitted to the Kingslayer, after learning the poison she willingly gulped would have no pain. “Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me.”
The look on Jaime’s face was priceless. B-But I talked her out of skinning you alive! we almost heard him say. Instead, he spun around and booked it out of Olenna’s solar toot-sweet, the Queen of Thorns’ eyes fixed on his heels. *clap clap* Masterfully done. She deserved no less than victory.
What Cersei will do with the knowledge that she let the one person responsible for the death of King Joffrey die a quiet death is anyone’s guess, but we can already assume it will involve an apocalyptic level of impotent rage. The Queen had already spent her daily reserves of carefully meted revenge earlier that day on Ellaria Sand and her daughter, Tyene, the latter of whom received the same kiss of death from Cersei as poor Myrcella did from Ellaria back in Season Five.
Since there are no more Tyrells to torment, Cersei will have to direct her fury elsewhere. This week’s episode showed Cersei putting the cruel tutelage of her father to proper use: she manipulated the Iron Bank into keeping the Crown flush until the end of the war (or until she finds a way to wipe her debt clean, whichever comes first); she cleared out Casterley Rock in advance of an attack by her brother Tyrion (in a move that echoed Robb Stark’s win at the Whispering Wood in Season Two); and she used the combined might of King’s Landing and the Tarlys (and Bronn!) to put the final kibosh on the Tyrells. The Targaryen invasion is already beginning to evaporate.
Yes, for Dany, her mighty campaign has so far amounted to a mere whimper. She can’t seem to keep any of her generals around (why she felt sending Yara and Ellaria back to Dorne for troops when a simple raven would have sufficed, I’ll never know), and the remaining armies she does have just conquered the Casterly Rock of Fuck All.
The novelty of seeing Dothraki hanging around the sands of Dragonstone has begun to wane. The time for action is nigh. Why can’t I just fly my dragons over Euron’s fleet and burn the heck out of it? she puts to Tyrion, Hand of the Queen, and Lord of the Pyrrhic Victory. Because you’ll die, you dummy, Tyrion says, only much kinder. (Tyrion still has a way with words, a fact that was on full display this week.)
The funny part about Dany’s diminishing might is that she has the MVP of Throwing Down cooling his heels in a Dragonstone cell right now. That’s right, Jon Snow, King in the North, Bastard of Winterfell, and Warden of Mopes finally had the pleasure of meeting Daenerys Stormborn, Breaker of Chains, Yada Yada Yada, after seven seasons worth of build-up. Was this meeting well worth the wait? Yes and no.
It was a giddy affair, that much is certain. It was pointed out that Jon has fewer titles than Dany, and technically — since Dany holds the best claim to the Iron Throne of anyone (and no one knows Jon’s a Targaryen except Bran Stark) — Jon’s current station as King is an act of rebellion. These two were always going to give each other static, but it was entertaining enough to watch these gorgeous people talk around how inevitable it is that they’ll start smooching each other before long. (What? Aunt/nephew action is practically beige wallpaper in a show like this.)
Jon’s prowess in battle should be a matter that concerns the aspiring Queen of Westeros greatly. Instead, she huffs over Jon’s refusal to bend the knee, an act that sends Jon and Ser Davos straight to the cells. (“Am I your prisoner?” Jon asks. Dany: *shrugs* “Kinda.”) Dany laser-focus on what should he hers by rights, and about how Westeros will rue the day the Targaryens got tossed to the scrap heap of history, seems to be taking the focus off the bigger picture. “I am Dany, hear me roar.” Jon: “Zombie snowmen are gonna kill us all.”
Tyrion: (on Sansa) “She’s smarter than she lets on.” Jon: “She’s starting to let on.”
“You look better at brooding than I do.” – Tyrion, to Jon.
“You must allow them their flights of fancy. It’s dreary in the North.” – Tyrion.
BEST MOMENT: In an episode where much happened and most of it was stirring, Lady Olenna’s last words to Jaime Lannister were the fittingly glorious capper this semi-satisfying episode of Thrones needed.
EPISODE’S MVP: Tyrion Lannister plucked the episode’s best lines from the air like the low-hanging fruit they were and shared a strangely comforting moment with Jon Snow on the cliffs of Dragonstone. It is hoped the show finds something more compelling for Dany’s Hand to do in the few remaining episodes to come because he is oh-so very worth it.
– Apologies for last week’s break! We were in San Diego for SDCC, and have you ever wrote a television recap in a hotel.
– Davos’ protestations that King’s Landing is more attainable than Dany realizes were immediately shut down by Tyrion, who kindly reminded the Onion Knight of his blunder at the Blackwater. Davos: “We almost took King’s Landing without dragons!” Tyrion: “Almost.”
– Melisandre implied that she saw Varys’ death in the flames, as well as her own. Yes, but when, when, is the Red Woman going to bump into Arya again? Is she headed back North? I don’t think she is.
– Loved Sam’s simple explanation to Jim Broadbent’s exasperation: “How did you do it?” “I read the book and followed the instructions.”
– Another huge union this week was Sansa and Bran, who finally made it back to Winterfell this week. He’s the Three-Eyed Raven now, officially, and he’s adopted the same quizzical affect most aloof sages have in abundance. That’s a slightly obnoxious character quirk for the Wee Stark, who regaled Sansa with memories of her wedding with Ramsay. (Hey, thanks?)
– Now that Theon has been rescued by the Ironborn — the, erm, good ones? I guess? — does this mean we’re about to see a rescue of his captive sister, Yara?
– “Cersei’s a monster, you should know that.” Lady Olenna’s warning to Jaime, who seems pretty cool with Cersei’s methods these days, were appropriately ominous. “She’ll be the end of you,” she informed our Kingslayer, which is probably going to be true.
– So what’s up, group? Is Jaime gonna kill the shit out of Euron or what? Will Arya’s reunion with Bran be as awkward as Bran’s reunion with Sansa? Sound off in the comments below.
7 out of 10
Next: “The Spoils of War,” in one week.
Before: “Dragonstone,” here.