David and Adam Shimer are twin brothers — and close Game of Thrones watchers. David is an incoming senior at Yale and the editor in chief of the Yale Daily News. Adam is an incoming senior at Northwestern University.
Tywin Lannister In Memoriam Award for Best Political Maneuvering: Euron moving one step closer to marital bliss
Eddard and Robb Stark In Memoriam Award for Worst Political Maneuvering: Tyrion getting his allies killed at record speed
Gilly-and-Her-Baby Award for Most Boring Storyline: Davos and Missandei’s 30 seconds of small talk was 30 seconds too long
Jaime Lannister’s Right Hand Award for Best Fight Sequence: “The Sacking of Casterly Rock”, as narrated by the Rock’s very own Imp
‘You Know Nothing Jon Snow’ Award for Best Quote: “She’s a disease. I regret my role in spreading it. You will too.”
Breaking it Down
DS: I keep thinking about Olenna’s parting words: A failure of imagination ruined House Tyrell. If the Game of Thrones is a game of imagination, this episode offered clear winners and losers. Sadly, Dany was the biggest loser of them all. The show-runners are clearly trying to make us doubt whether she will, in fact, sit on the Iron Throne. They’re doing an excellent job. Since sailing to Westeros, Dany has been outsmarted — out-imagined — at every turn. In this episode, she couldn’t bring herself to imagine that the White Walkers exist, that casualties are a necessary part of war, or that her dragons could be slain. She couldn’t imagine that perhaps she will not rule the Seven Kingdoms. She couldn’t even imagine what taking a knife to the heart means (the answer: literally taking a knife to the heart). Littlefinger, meanwhile, is pushing Sansa to stretch the limits of her imagination, and Cersei’s mind seems to know no limits. She can guess what Tyrion will think before Tyrion thinks it, and her wit has turned a hopeless cause into a winning coalition. Over the past seven seasons, so many characters have risen and fallen depending on whether they could imagine their enemies’ capabilities (spoiler alert: the Starks always lost). We as viewers can only keep trying — and likely failing — to imagine what will come next, and only hope that Dany will stop proclaiming that she was “born to rule the Seven Kingdoms” and start figuring out how to actually do it.
AS: Despite the show now revolving around three female heads — Cersei, Daenerys and Sansa — this episode also reminded us that the legacies (and imaginations) of dead patriarchs still hang over Westeros. Daenerys — referred to multiple times as the “Mad King’s daughter” — had to apologize for the atrocities her father committed. Jon proudly stated that Ned rebelled to overthrow the Mad King, but later admitted that he feared repeating his father’s mistakes by playing the role of a “northern fool.” Cersei could barely hide her delight at being called her “father’s daughter” as she sat at his old desk negotiating with the Iron Bank. Tyrion conquered Tywin’s former fortress, however, by leveraging his father’s tendency to underestimate his own children. Even Sam stated that he saved Jorah — condemned to a certain and gruesome death — out of respect for Jeor Mormont, the father whose honor Jorah could never live up to. Altogether, the giants of past seasons are still directing the present, but it is important to remember, as Tyrion said to Jon, that “children are not their fathers, luckily for all of us.”
DS: The show is doing more than harkening back to the deeds of individual characters. Last night, we saw the clearest parallels yet between the war to destroy the Mad King and the impending war to destroy Mad Queen Cersei. The Mad King made Ned’s brother watch as his father was burned alive, and the Mad Queen has now forced Ellaria to watch her daughter be poisoned to death. During Robert’s Rebellion, the North, the Vale and House Baratheon united against King’s Landing. Now, an updated rendition of that coalition — the North, the Vale and House Targaryen — is poised to unite against King’s Landing. But there are important, anxiety-provoking differences. Based on what we know, Ned Stark and Jon Arryn were honorable lords. Sansa and Littlefinger are anything but. Our unimaginative khaleesi will all but certainly take King’s Landing, if you recall the flash-forward in season two showing the Red Keep destroyed by dragon fire. But I worry that she will then misjudge someone like Littlefinger, whose imagination knows no bounds, who thrives during periods of chaos and who, in the words of Varys, “would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes.”
AS: Olenna Tyrell did warn Dany to beware of clever men. David and I will miss our favorite matriarch, but her exit really did match her intelligence and wit. The Tyrells have always been controlled and defined by Olenna, so it is fitting that her family’s demise came with her death. After Tyrion was outmaneuvered yet again (he clearly isn’t a war-time consigliere), Highgarden fell to the Lannister forces. Cersei once warned Margaery about what happened the last time the realm’s second most powerful house attempted to usurp the Lannisters, which made it appropriate for the Queen of Thorns to quote the Rains of Castamere to Jaime just before she died. As Olenna reflected on the unspeakable things she did to protect her family, she left us wondering whether she would disclose that she orchestrated Joffrey’s murder. She noted that her greatest failure was Cersei doing things she was incapable of imagining, which resonated nicely with Littlefinger (her coconspirator in regicide) instructing Sansa that she should prepare as if every possible series of events was happening all at once. Only after drinking her death-potion in record speed did she reveal her conspiratorial role, leaving Jaime to reconcile that he had provided a painless death to the woman who gave his eldest son an agonizing one.
• ”Her dragons might not be as invulnerable as some think” — cue Cersei mischievously thinking about her giant crossbow.
• Between Jon raving about fighting an army of the dead and Bran muttering about being a three-eyed raven, I wouldn’t blame others for thinking the Stark boys are insane.
• ”I am the last Targaryen”—said Daenerys Targaryen to Jon Targaryen… I mean Snow.
• Bran’s despondent reunion with Sansa and his clueless, hurtful decision to bring up the details of her wedding night served as a sad reminder that his training has left him barely human.
• Cersei isn’t afraid to reveal her and Jaime’s affair anymore—let the handmaiden see them together! Good for them… I guess?
• Cersei has now left another mortal enemy to perpetually suffer in a dungeon torture chamber. I wonder how Septa Unella is doing?
• The Dorne-Tyrell-Greyjoy rebellion lasted all of 3 episodes.
• Olenna could have squealed on Littlefinger during her deathbed confession to Jaime, but instead chose to leave out his role in Joffrey’s death. I guess she wanted all the glory.
• For Euron to go from groveling to Cersei in the Red Keep to burning the Unsullied fleet at Casterly Rock in half an episode is stretching it, even for GOT travel standards.