“Game of Thrones
August 13, 2017
Daenerys teaches some Tarlys a lesson in manners; Littlefinger plays the sibling rivalry card; Tyrion comes up with a hare-brained scheme; Gendry is finally done with rowing, only to have to take a few more boat rides; Jon makes a new dragon friend; and Gilly reveals the biggest most hugest non-secret of the show, but no one listens to Gilly. ~womp-womp~
Somehow, improbably — impossibly, even — Bronn and Jaime, wearing full armor, manage to not only not drown in the river they dove into to avoid being roasted by an angry dragon, but they also, somehow, improbably — impossibly, even — swim to the other side of it, evading Danerys and her Dothraki hordes.
Once ashore, Bronn warns Jaime that now dragons are part of the equation, the Lannisters are good and fucked, adding that dragons are a partnership killer for him. So, good luck delivering this news to your sociopathic lover-twin!
On the other side of the river, Tyrion wanders through the ashes of the unluckier Lannister troops, as the Dothraki lead the luckier ones towards Daenerys and Drogon. Once before her, Daenerys is like, “Dudes, look, I know what Cersei has said about me, that I want to burn your houses and kill your children and let dark skinned people move in next door and redistribute everyone’s wealth, but none of that is true. All I’m saying is the system is rigged in favor of the Cerseis in the world and I’m here to fix it. Also, is single-payer health care really the worst thing that could happen to you? I don’t think so. So bend the knee and we’ll be cool.”
While some of the troops kneel, those asshole Tarlys refuse, so Daenerys calls Randyll forward and he’s all, “Sorry, I already have a queen.” Tyrion tries to point out that Cersei has only been his queen for a hot second, so how hard would it be for him to change allegiances again? But Randy’s not interested, citing some Westerosi nationalist bullshit about how Daenerys is a foreign leader with an army of savages and blah blah blah heritage, not hate.
Daenerys is like, “Cool cool cool, you have principles. But so do I: bend the knee or your knees get burned.” Tyrion tries to save Randy by suggesting that he take the Black, but Randy is all, “SHE CAN’T MAKE ME!” Which, dude. She has a dragon, she can pretty much make you do ANYTHING.
And that’s when his idiot son Dickon is all, “You’ll have to kill me, too!” And Daenerys is like, “Sure, why not?” Tyrion tries again to save the asshole Tarlys by suggesting they be given some time to think about their choices in a dark cell somewhere, but Daenerys is like, “Nope. Dracarys.” And Drogon dracaryses, and the asshole Tarlys become Tar-ka-bobs and the remaining troops that hadn’t kneeled by this point find the ground real fast.
The Three-Eyed Bran sends a flock of ravens up North of the Wall to check out what the Night King is up to, and it’s not great, Bob. The Night King has organized thousands upon thousands of wights and they’re headed to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, the eastern-most point at the Wall. When the Night King notices The Three-Eyed Bran’s ravens, Bran snaps to and orders Maester Whomever to prepare message ravens.
Inside the castle, Arya listens with irritation as the Northern lords bitch at Sansa about Jon’s absence and are all, “Ugh, we wish you were queen, gah.”
Arya later follows Sansa into her room — their parents’ old room — and is all, “WAIT WAIT WAIT, WHO SAID YOU COULD HAVE MOM AND DAD’S ROOM?” Arya then gives Sansa grief for not being harsh enough with the Northern lords who were shit-talking Jon, and Sansa’s like, “Yeah, you can’t just go around chopping people’s heads off, it’s not great politics.”
Later, Arya sneaks after Littlefinger who is wandering around the place being all, “DON’T MIND ME, I’M ACTING NORMAL AND NOT SUSPICIOUS AT ALL, AND YOU CERTAINLY SHOULDN’T FOLLOW ME TO SEE WHAT SORTS OF TROUBLE I’M MAKING, DEFINITELY DON’T WORRY ABOUT THIS SCROLL I AM TAKING FROM THIS PERSON WHILE THANKING THEM ON LADY STARK’S BEHALF, LA LA LA, TOTALLY NORMAL, NOT SUSPICIOUS.”
Arya later breaks into his room and searches the place, eventually finding a scroll tucked inside his mattress — the same message that Sansa wrote under duress by the Lannisters to Robb urging him to bend the knee to Joffrey. Between this, the Northern lords shit-talking Jon and Sansa taking mom and dad’s room, Arya is now SUPER pissed at her sister, while Littlefinger twirls his mustache in the shadows.
One of The Three-Eyed Bran’s message ravens arrived in Oldtown, where the Maesters have a meeting about it and are all, “LOL, listen to this! A crippled kid claims to have visions of ice zombies marching towards Westeros!”
Sam, who happened to be doing some sort of errand during the meeting, tells the Maesters that the crippled kid is Bran Stark, that he helped Bran go beyond the Wall, so it’s pretty fucking amazing that a crippled kid managed to survive out there and make it back home, and also, too, he’s personally seen said ice zombies and they’re no joke. And if the Maesters really wanted to be helpful, they’d urge the lords of Winterfell to send troops North to defend the Wall.
“Orrrrr,” says Maester Autopsy while affixing his tinfoil hat, “it’s all a ploy by that dragon chick to get us to send the armies of Westeros away so she can take the Iron Throne while we’re not looking…”
As Sam leaves in irritation, the other Maesters ask Maester Autopsy if he’s the one whose family was blowed up by the dragon and Maester Autopsy is all, “SHHH, I HAVEN’T TOLD HIM YET.”
Later, in their room — which, let me just stop and say, I still don’t understand how THIS arrangement works, is everyone just cool with Sam having his baby and baby momma living with him? — Sam fumes about the Maesters not listening to him while Gilly reads out a bunch of trivia from some text: the Citadel has 15,782 steps; this maester recorded all of his bowel movements; Rhaegar Targaryen received an annulment from his Dorinish wife and was married to someone else in a secret ceremony. But Sam isn’t listening as Gilly reveals THE BIGGEST SECRET IN THE ENTIRE SERIES, as he is bitching too much about not being listened to. In a snit, Sam grabs Gilly’s book, and gives it to Little Sam for some reason before storming off to the library to steal a bunch of other books. He then packs up his loot, Gilly and Little Sam and they head off into the night. Presumably towards Winterfell, who knows.
That bit of Lannister business taken care of, Daenerys returns to Dragonstone and lands Drogon right in front of an apprehensive but curious Jon Snow. After a few growls, Drogon sniffs at Jon and Jon, like any good animal lover, removes his glove so that the dragon can get a better smell. Figuring that he would have been turned into a pile of smoldering furs by now if Drogon didn’t like him, Jon has the confidence to pet the dragon — which, oh my seven Gods, kinda purrs — to both Daenerys and Jon’s astonishment. “I’m sorry, what did you say your last name was again?”
Dany and Jon then have a brief chat about battle strategy and Daenerys is like, “Hey, what was that thing I heard about you being stabbed in the heart?” But before Jon can deflect, Jorah Mormont shows up and changes the conversation for him. Jorah explains that he found himself some Bactine, and now he’s ready to get back to the business of following Daenerys around with sad puppy eyes.
Inside the castle, Varys lectures Tyrion on trying to control Daenerys, maybe have her cool it with the whole “roasting people alive” business. Tyrion is like, “whadamigonnado?” Varys is all, “Sure, I told myself the same thing when I worked for her crazy ass dad, but yeah, you tell yourself what you need to.”
Tyrion then notices that Varys has the scroll from The Three-Eyed Bran and is like, “so, what’s the news?”
The message finally reaches its intended target, Jon, who, though happy to learn Bran and Arya are alive, is FULLY WORKED UP about this Eastwatch business. “IT’S BEEN REAL, BUT I GOTS TO GO.” Daenerys points out that he doesn’t have enough men to fight a zombie army, and he’s like, “Are you offering to help?” But, nope, she isn’t: if she were to take her troops North, Cersei would march in and undo all of her dragoning.
Tyrion then suggests an utterly ridiculous plan: Maybe if they prove to Cersei that ice zombies are a thing, she’ll agree to an armistice — instead of fighting one another, they can make nice and all fight the ice zombies together.
So before we move on, let’s break down this plan:
Step 1.: Get an ice zombie.
Step 2.: Transport an ice zombie over two thousand miles from the Wall to King’s Landing.
Step 3.: Convince Cersei to take a meeting with her mortal enemies, including the brother whom she blames for the death of her son, mother and father, so they can show her an ice zombie.
Step 4.: Hope that when Queen Crazypants sees said ice zombie, she makes a rational decision to use her troops to fight other ice zombies and not, instead, to somehow turn this whole mess to her advantage.
What could go wrong?
Jaime returns to King’s Landing where he delivers the news to Cersei that they are not going to win this war against Daenerys with her Dothraki screamers and three giant ass dragons. Also, too, by the way, Tyrion didn’t kill Joffrey, it was the Queen of Badasses.
And Cersei is like, “So what’s your point? That I just submit and not go out fighting like a little bitch? Do I look like little bitch to you?”
Meanwhile, Davos loads Tyrion up into his Tardis (h/t Andrew Dansby) and delivers him to that secret shore at King’s Landing that has been used multiple times now for people to come and go from King’s Landing, and maybe, I dunno, where Cersei should keep full-time guards posted?
Anyway, as they part ways, Davos does make a passing mention of this being the place where Tyrion killed his son (R.I.P. ONION, JR.) and then announces that he has business of his own in Flea Bottom. BYE, DON’T GET KILLED BY YOUR SISTER!
So, at some point, don’t worry about when, Tyrion made contact with Bronn and convinced him to lead Jaime into the dragon skull basement to “train” but really to secretly meet Tyrion.
Tyrion congratulates Jaime for surprising him at Casterly Rock, adding that their father would be proud. This only pisses Jaime off, you know because of the whole Tyrion-killed-their-father thing, but Tyrion pleads that their father was going to have him executed even though he knew Tyrion was perfectly innocent. Also, too, daddy always hated him because of the whole dwarf
and probably secret Targaryen bidness.
Anyway, the reason he tricked him here today is to warn Jaime that Daenerys is going to win, and to assure Jaime that she’s no Mad King. But also, too, because she wants to suspend hostilities, for, like, a hot minute.
Meanwhile, Davos heads into a blacksmith’s shop where he finds what he was looking for: Gendry, who is no longer rowing. Davos begins trying to sell Gendry on coming with him, and Gendry is like, “Let me stop you right there and go get my things, including my badass Baratheon war hammer, let’s go.”
The men head back to the secret shore where they are confronted by a pair of soldiers looking for a little bribe. And this works until Tyrion shows up and the soldiers realize that they’ve happened upon a pot of gold: nothing Davos can offer them will be more than what Queen Cersei will give them for her brother. So Gendry bops them in the face with his war hammer, and Davos and Tyrion are both like, “Coooooooool.”
Back in the Red Keep, Jaime informs Cersei of this business with Tyrion and Daenerys and the ice zombies, and Cersei is like, “First of all, I knew about Tyrion and Bronn’s little arrangement and you should punish Bronn for betraying you. Second of all, we have to figure out how to use this dragon and ice zombie nonsense to our advantage. Third of all, I’m pregnant and I’m going to tell everyone it’s yours because I don’t give any more fucks.”
Back at Dragonstone
Davos teleports everyone back to Dragonstone and instructs Gendry to keep the whole “secret Baratheon” thing to himself. So, of course, Gendry immediately marches up to Jon Snow and introduces himself as the secret bastard son of Robert Baratheon: their dads trusted one another, why shouldn’t they? Jon notes that he met Gendry’s father once: Gendry’s a lot leaner. And Gendry counters that he met Jon’s father once: Jon’s a lot shorter. And everyone laughs and laughs because Jon Snow is so short.
Anyway, Gendry and his war hammer volunteer to go to Eastwatch with Jon and Jon’s like, “Sure, cool, whatever.”
And they are apparently leaving immediately? Because here’s Tyrion having a moment with Jorah, and then Jorah is having a moment with Daenerys, and then Daenerys is having a moment with Jon …
… and then everyone is back in a teleporter headed to the Wall.
Jon and his group arrive in Eastwatch where they explain this whole “convince the lady queens that ice zombies are real” plan to Tormund who is unimpressed. He’s even more unimpressed when he learns that Jon didn’t bring Brienne along on the mission.
And if this show doesn’t end with Brienne and Tormund making giant hairy babies I am going to burn this whole place to the ground.
Tormund then explains that aside from his wildlings, they have a few more people who want to join their fight, and leads them to a prison cell where the Hound and his new buddies the Brotherhood Without Banners are hanging out. And before you know it, everyone begins bitching about how much they hate everyone else: Gendry hates the Brotherhood; Jorah hates Dondarrion for… reasons; Tormund hates Jorah; &c. and so forth, until finally Jon is like, “WELL YOU PEOPLE NEED TO FIND A WAY TO GET ALONG BECAUSE WE HAVE ZOMBIES TO KILL.”
And with that, the improbable team head out through the Wall where it looks very cold and despite the fact they are all swaddled in giant furs there is not a single hat on anyone. WHERE ARE THEIR HATS? WHY NO HATS? IT IS MUCH TOO COLD AND WINDY AND THEIR EARS ARE GOING TO FALL OFF. WAS PART OF THE NIGHT’S WATCH VOW TO NEVER WEAR HATS? In conclusion: Everyone needs to put on a hat.
So let’s talk about the Very Important Thing that everyone else all over the Internets has already pointed out to you regarding this episode, but I have to go back over again because 1. I don’t really have that much to say about an episode that was all about moving pieces around on the board but 2. because IT IS THE HUGEST THING EVER: Jon is not only a Targaryen, but a legitimate Targaryen, and not only a legitimate Targaryen, but the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
Gilly reads to Sam a bit of curious gossip: that a prince “Rag-gar” had his marriage annulled and wed someone else in a secret wedding in Dorne. What Gilly is almost certainly referring to here is Daenerys’ brother Rhaegar annulling his marriage to his wife Princess Elia Martell (Oberyn’s sister) with whom he had two children, Rhaenys and Aegon, so that he could secretly marry Lyanna Stark (Ned’s sister), Jon’s mother.
According to the story that everyone in Winterfell believes, Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna Stark against her will, an event that had a catastrophic domino effect, ending in Robert’s Rebellion and the toppling of the Targaryen rule. However, this document suggests that Rhaegar and Lyanna’s relationship was not merely consensual as most fans had already surmised, but that it was legitimized by the church itself.
And because Westeros is a patriarchal society that engages in primogeniture, Jon Snow, the only living son of the son of the last Targaryen king has more claim to the throne than Daenerys, the daughter of the last Targaryen king.
So it will be interesting to see how — or if — this game-changing information will alter the dynamics between Daenerys and Jon when it finally comes to light. The thing is, Jon Snow doesn’t care about the Iron Throne: he barely cares about being King in the North. And he mostly assumed that mantle as a means to rally the lords in the North for his cause against the White Walkers. More shocking to Jon, I think, will be learning that not only is he not Ned Stark’s son, but that he was never a bastard — the one thing that defined him his entire life.
This news also challenges Daenerys’ identity as the last dragon and her presumption that she is deserving of the Iron Throne just by virtue of being the only Targaryen around. Now, I doubt this news will change Daenerys’s feelings about her claim to the Throne. She hasn’t been raising a bunch of dragons and marching all over Essos, evading assassins and rapists for the past seven seasons just to give up on the Iron Throne because Jon’s a secret Targaryen. But who knows, maybe it will give her comfort to know that she’s not alone in the world.
And the easiest solution to this problem of two Targaryens, one Iron Throne is of course:
A couple of interesting points about this whole “Jon Snow is a legitimate Targaryen” development: For one thing, the show and the books have already hinted at this particular twist at the Tower of Joy. When Ned arrives at the Tower, he finds it guarded by Ser Arthur Dayne and Ser Gerold Hightower: members of the Kingsguard. Ned even points out that the Mad King is dead, Prince Rhaegar is dead and they weren’t there to protect him. So why were they here of all places?
Because, as it turns out, they were doing their job: protecting the rightful king — the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen.
The other interesting thing about Jon Snow being Rhaegar’s legitimate son is how it fits in with the “Prince That Was Promised” prophecy. While presumably Rhaegar and Lyanna were in love, and that was the primary motivating factor behind their secret marriage, it’s also possible Rhaegar might have been trying to fulfill the prophecy that long infatuated the Targaryens.
We have discussed the Prince That Was Promised prophecy at length, but we haven’t much talked about the connection it has to the phrase “the dragon has three heads.” The Targaryens place a great deal of value on this three-headed dragon imagery: it’s their house sigil, representing the three dragons (Balerion, Vhagar and Meraxes) that Aegon I, and his sister-wives Rhaenys and Visenya, rode in conquest of Westeros. But it also seems be tied — somehow — to the Prince That Was Promised prophecy.
For instance, as Maester Aemon grows closer to dying, he becomes more and more panicked about the prophecy and Daenerys’ connection to it:
“You must tell them, Sam,” he said. “The archmaesters. You must make them understand. The men who were at the Citadel when I was have been dead for fifty years. These others never knew me. My letters … in Oldtown, they must have read like the ravings of an old man whose wits had fled. You must convince them, where I could not. Tell them, Sam … tell them how it is upon the Wall … the wights and the white walkers, the creeping cold …”
“I will,” Sam promised. “I will add my voice to yours, maester. We will both tell them, the two of us together.”
“No,” the old man said. “It must be you. Tell them. The prophecy … my brother’s dream … Lady Melisandre has misread the signs. Stannis … Stannis has some of the dragon blood in him, yes. His brothers did as well. Rhaelle, Egg’s little girl, she was how they came by it … their father’s mother … she used to call me Uncle Maester when she was a little girl. I remembered that, so I allowed myself to hope … perhaps I wanted to … we all deceive ourselves, when we want to believe. Melisandre most of all, I think. The sword is wrong, she has to know that … light without heat … an empty glamor … the sword is wrong, and the false light can only lead us deeper into darkness, Sam. Daenerys is our hope. Tell them that, at the Citadel. Make them listen. They must send her a maester. Daenerys must be counseled, taught, protected. For all these years I’ve lingered, waiting, watching, and now that the day has dawned I am too old. I am dying, Sam.”
That had been one of his last good days. After that the old man spent more time sleeping than awake, curled up beneath a pile of furs in the captain’s cabin. Sometimes he would mutter in his sleep. When he woke he’d call for Sam, insisting that he had to tell him something, but oft as not he would have forgotten what he meant to say by the time that Sam arrived. Even when he did recall, his talk was all a jumble. He spoke of dreams and never named the dreamer, of a glass candle that could not be lit and eggs that would not hatch. He said the sphinx was the riddle, not the riddler, whatever that meant. He asked Sam to read for him from a book by Septon Barth, whose writings had been burned during the reign of Baelor the Blessed. Once he woke up weeping. “The dragon must have three heads,” he wailed, “but I am too old and frail to be one of them. I should be with her, showing her the way, but my body has betrayed me.”
And then there is Rhaegar Targaryen, Daenerys’ brother and Jon Snow’s father. He believed himself to be the Prince That Was Promised for a time. The Ghost of High Heart told his grandfather, Jaehaerys II, that the Prince That Was Promised would come from his son Aerys’ (the Mad King) and his daughter Rhaella’s line, so Jaehaerys forced his children to marry, even though they weren’t in love. Later, Rhaegar, their eldest son, was born at a Targaryen summer castle, Summerhall. However his birth was marked by terrible tragedy: in celebration of his birth, his great-grandfather, King Aegon V, summoned those closest to him to Summerhall, where a great fire broke out presumably because King Aegon V was trying to awaken dragon eggs through pyromancy. King Aegon V, his son and heir, Prince Duncan the Small and many others in the court perished in the fire. Thus, Rhaegar was said to be born “admist smoke and salt”: the smoke from the fire, the salt of eveyrone’s tears over the tragedy.
Later, however, Rhaegar began to believe the Prince That Was Promised was his son Aegon, after a comet was seen over the Red Keep on the day he was born. In the books, we learn that giving birth to two of his children very nearly killed Rhaegar’s first wife, Elia, and the maesters told him she could bear no more children. It’s possible, though, that Rhaegar believed he was required to have a third child to fulfill the Prince That Was Promised prophecy — specifically the whole “dragon has three heads” business, and that’s why he marries Lyanna, to give him another child. The evidence for this is scant, but partially comes from Daenerys’ trip to the House of the Undying, where she has this a vision of her brother:
Viserys, was her first thought the next time she paused, but a second glance told her otherwise. The man had her brother’s hair, but he was taller, and his eyes were a dark indigo rather than lilac. “Aegon,” he said to a woman nursing a newborn babe in a great wooden bed. “What better name for a king?”
“Will you make a song for him?” the woman asked.
“He has a song,” the man replied. “He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire.” He looked up when he said it and his eyes met Dany’s, and it seemed as if he saw her standing there beyond the door. “There must be one more,” he said,” though whether he was speaking to her or the woman in the bed she could not say. “The dragon has three heads.” He went to the window seat, picked up a harp, and ran his fingers lightly over its silvery strings. Sweet sadness filled the room as man and wife and babe faded like the morning mist, only the music lingering behind to speed her on her way.
Excerpt From: George R. R. Martin. “A Clash of Kings.” Bantam Books, 1999.
So it is possible that in an effort to ensure that Aegon would fulfill the prophecy of the Prince That Was Promised, Rhaegar unwittingly set into motion a series of events that would bring dragons back into the world, set his sister on a path towards conquering Westeros, and birth the one man who will save the kingdom from the Long Night. His child might just turn out to be the Prince That Was Promised*, but not the one he expected. Prophecy can be tricky.
*Also, Daenerys is the Prince(ss) That Was Promised, duh.
And so if Daenerys is one of the three heads of the dragon — and seeing as she is the “Mother of Dragons,” it is probably safe to assume she is — the question is who are the other two? The show might have answered that in this episode:
And curiously, the only other character that we have seen touch a dragon with impunity?
BUT WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME TO REVEAL TYRION IS A SECRET TARGARYEN, Y’ALL. GET TO IT.
A few final thoughts on this episode:
I have to give my husband credit for pointing out that the Stark dynamic is very complicated right now: though the siblings have been (for the most part) reunited, these are people who don’t really know each other at all. They were separated as children, and their individual experiences in the world changed them so dramatically that they do not resemble their more innocent selves. This is Sansa, but this is not the spoiled bratty little girl that Arya remembers. This is Arya, but this is not the tomboyish rascal that Sansa remembers. This is Bran, but, dude, this is NOT the Bran either sister remembers. This gulf between who the Stark children were and who they are now is large enough for someone like Littlefinger to slip inside to try to manipulate to his advantage. Hopefully, the pack will remember they are stronger together.
Speaking of the Starks and their disagreements, Sansa telling Arya that chopping off heads of people who might disagree with you is a fine way to make enemies was meant to show a calm, reasonable and political Lady Stark in contrast to Daenerys darcarysing the Tarlys, and forcing her enemies to bend the knee out of fear. And while I appreciate this notion that Tyrion is having some hesitations about Daenerys’ rather violent means of conquering, hesitations that Varys is sharing and encouraging, I also am not sure that I quite get all of the hand-wringing over the killing of those asshole Tarlys. Daenerys knew she needed to make an example out the Tarlys: she is not wrong in saying that if she were to offer prison as an option, it’s the one most people would take. Additionally, Daenerys, despite her badass dragons, is still a woman in a male-dominated society. She has to be twice as tough, twice as deadly to make these hardened male soldiers take her seriously.
As long as she’s not murdering innocent people with her dragons, I’m not sure I understand why everyone is so freaked out by her wielding her power against her enemy combatants.
Finally, I know this is being picky and pedantic, but can we talk about the distances the characters traveled in THIS EPISODE ALONE? Dragonstone is supposed to be roughly 450 miles from King’s Landing, Winterfell is roughly 600+ miles to the Wall, and Winterfell is over 2000 miles to King’s Landing which means that Dragonstone has to be somewhere around 2100 miles to the Wall. Considering that in this episode, Davos sails to King’s Landing, picks up Gendry, sails back to Dragonstone, and then Jon and Gendry, et al, sail to the Wall, how much time, exactly, was supposed to have passed in this episode? WHAT EVEN IS TIME ON THIS SHOW?
Game of Thrones airs on HBO on Sundays at 8/9 p.m., Sam mansplained to Gilly while she was trying to tell him about the biggest secret of the show.