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: Dany actually making use of her dragons
Eddard and Robb Stark In Memoriam Award for Worst Political Maneuvering: A one-handed Jaime deciding to charge a fully grown dragon
Gilly-and-Her-Baby Award for Most Boring Storyline: Meera’s long overdue exit from the show
Jaime Lannister’s Right Hand Award for Best Fight Sequence: Hmmmm, can’t seem to think of any good fight scenes from this episode. Nothing coming immediately to mind.
You Know Nothing Jon Snow’ Award for Best Quote: “Chaos is a ladder!”
Breaking it Down
DS: Our leading characters are in for a rude awakening: After seven seasons of war, they have decimated Westeros and their ability to defend it. I loved watching Dany slaughter the Lannister army. Yet throughout the battle, so many useful soldiers and trucks perished. The writers made a point of showing Dany blow up a line of wagons filled with grain. Have you noticed how everyone on the show is suddenly obsessed with grain? The Lannisters tried to import tons of it, Dany went on the attack to reestablish her supply lines, and Sansa has been working to mobilize farmers across the North. One of Thrones’ larger themes is that as politicians engage in endless quarrels, they can turn a blind eye to real threats. So far, Jon has been the only one to recognize the threat beyond the wall. But at some point (right?) the army of the dead will stop marching in endless circles and start marching south. When that happens, the leaders of the Seven Kingdoms will wish they hadn’t wasted their food, supplies and soldiers fighting among themselves.
AS: Jon is trying his best to make others take the white walker threat seriously. This episode, he conveniently found ancient illustrations that aided in his pitch — even the White Walkers’ blue eyes hadn’t faded! There’s nothing quite like an ancient cave adorned with dragon glass for a first date, and Jon does have a history with caves (RIP Ygritte). But this scene ended in a typically disappointing fashion, with Jon asking for support and Dany replying that he has to bend the knee first. To Jon’s credit, if he were to return to Winterfell having sworn fealty to a Targaryen, it isn’t hard to imagine Sansa and the northern lords staging a coup. The Stark children reuniting one by one at Winterfell comes with endearing embraces, but also tension. Sansa’s gaze shifted from confused to uncomfortable as she watched Arya spar with Brienne, who is sworn to protect both Stark sisters. Meera spoke more this episode than she had in the past 4 seasons, but her parting words that Bran died in that cave (another cave!) were bitingly accurate. Still, there’s still enough of Bran left for him to know that his older sister would love nothing more than a sharp, fancy dagger, leaving hope that his Three-eyed raven abilities will not completely consume him.
DS: Bran, Sansa, and Arya have all made it home, and yet their home feels different, even dangerous, as conflict brews in Winterfell. The tensions between Sansa and Jon will likely come to a head now that Sansa has tasted power, and Littlefinger must be planning something. This episode, a new threat emerged to his hold over Sansa: the newly arrived Stark children. Littlefinger and Sansa creepily watched (their new favorite hobby) as Arya fought Brienne, showed off her assassin abilities, and then death-stared Littlefinger, who surely is thinking about her list of names. Assassins are one thing, but someone who can see into the past is Littlefinger’s worst nightmare. This is a man who has risen in power through manipulation, deceit, and betrayal. Bran knows that Littlefinger lied to Catelyn about the origins of that dagger and then betrayed Ned. Unless Littlefinger moves against Bran and Arya, he’s in trouble. Here’s to hoping that Sansa will stay true to her siblings rather than Littlefinger.
AS: I found tensions between the Lannister siblings equally interesting this episode. It bordered on cruel and unusual punishment for Dany to make Tyrion watch her slaughter Lannister men, though it certainly added a nice touch of family drama. Tyrion couldn’t help but mutter expletives as we watched his beloved brother charge a fully grown dragon, not to mention that Tyrion and Bronn have a long-standing friendship. Luckily for Tyrion, Jaime and Bronn have apparently learned to dodge dragon fire. No, I don’t think that Jaime is dead — he just seems to have momentarily forgotten how to swim, which looking into the fire-breathing mouth of a dragon can do to a man. Jaime refusing to abandon his men and then attempting to end the war by slaying Dany reminded us that the Kingslayer is low-key honorable. But it is unclear why it took him — and literally anyone else — so long to bring out the dragon-killing crossbow sitting unused in a caravan. Its introduction and proof that it works adds an interesting element to the Cersei vs. Daenerys showdown that will surely come to a head over the next three episodes.
• There was way too much talk of grain this episode. Lord Tarly and Sansa both seemed incredibly worried about the harvest, and even Bronn got shipped off to gather some wheat! Next time we see Cersei she’s going to be plowing fields outside of King’s Landing.
• Jon is so uncharismatic that he has to rely on ancient drawings magically appearing in caves to help him make his case.
• Shout-out to Ellaria Sand! If you think the Lannister soldiers had a tough episode, just think about how she must be faring in that cave.
• That moment when Brienne gets so competitive that she viciously kicks Arya in the chest and is worried for a split second that she just KO’ed her Lady.
• What was up with that random plea by Lord Tarly to whip some of his men for straggling behind?
• Arya reappearing at Winterfell was reminiscent of a scene in season one when she reappeared at the Stark keep in King’s Landing and had difficulty convincing the two guards that she was, in fact, Arya Stark.
• Chaos is a ladder!
• The long pan-outs of Littlefinger smirking as he watches the Stark children from a distance are really creepy.
• Arya is now in possession of a white-walker-killing Valyrian steel dagger! Also, her fighting stance where she has her sword hidden upright behind her back is just unfair.