Game of Thrones Recap, Season 7 Episode 3: The Queen's Justice
Jon Snow, Davos, and a small cadre of men are welcomed to Dragonstone by Tyrion Lannister, Missandei, and some armed Dothraki. Their weapons are confiscated and their boat is carried away. While Jon and Tyrion banter on their way up to the castle, Viserion conducts a flyby, provoking looks of shock and wonder as Melisandre and Varys watch from above. Before departing for Volantis, Melisandre concludes their tense relationship with an ominous warning:
Jon meets with Dany, who requests fresh oaths (drink) of fealty in line with those Torrhen Stark swore to Aegon the Conqueror; Jon refuses, citing the Mad King's murders of his grandfather and uncle. Dany acknowledges her father's evil and asks for Jon's forgiveness, and both agree not to hold the other responsible for the actions of their ancestors. Dany is determined to rule the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, and claims to have the forces necessary to do so peacefully or otherwise. Jon doesn't contradict her, instead presenting the White Walkers as a much greater threat facing them all. As the conversation begins to stall, Varys's appearance leads Dany to dismiss Jon and Davos, "not yet" as prisoners. Varys informs Dany of the loss of the Greyjoy fleet.
Later, Tyrion finds Jon brooding on the cliffs and promises to keep working towards a resolution. He encourages Dany to offer Jon something to begin building a relationship. She agrees, though still reluctant to acknowledge the existence of White Walkers, and informs Jon he can begin mining the dragonglass.
Dany's advisors talk her out of using her dragons to find Euron and burn his fleet, considering it too risky. Instead, they'll use Tyrion's intimate knowledge of Casterly Rock's sewer system and the secret passages he saw built to strike at the ancestral home of the Lannisters.
LORE: CASTERLY ROCK
My take: Intentional or not, getting buzzed by a dragon on your way to discuss an alliance sends a strong statement of power. Aside from the looks on Jon's and Davos's faces and the grin Tyrion and Jon shared, Melisandre and Varys's conversation drew my attention. Varys has already explained why he doesn't trust the Lord of Light's followers, and he seems unusually edgy in Melisandre's presence. Whether he's spooked by her parting words or not, we haven't seen the former Master of Whispers in his comfort zone, dealing valuable information with a smirk, in some time.
It was frustrating to watch Dany and Jon struggle through political niceties towards a resolution they both desperately need, but granting access to the dragonglass was a step in the right direction. I didn't detect genuine animosity on either side, and Jon would quickly grow restless so far from the North. Allowing him to mine at least prevents him from feeling useless while the threat beyond the Wall grows closer.
I appreciate the concerns Missandei and Tyrion voice when Dany suggests using her dragons to find Euron's fleet, but their excessive caution is beginning to cause problems, as we see later in the episode. No one in Westeros outside of Dragonstone has seen a dragon in centuries, but aside from an awesome display in Slaver's Bay, House Targaryen has regressed to owning dragons rather than using them. Perhaps more importantly, it's beginning to look clear that someone is handing information over to Queen Cersei in King's Landing; more on that later.
Euron receives a hero's welcome in the streets of King's Landing with Ellaria Sand, her daughter Tyene, and his niece Yara in tow. Cersei, too, is visibly excited to see her mortal enemies tied up in front of her. Euron makes blatant advances towards the Queen and provokes Jaime with some crude talk before leaving the Dornish women behind and exiting with Yara.
Cersei has her "gifts" brought to the dungeons, where Qyburn and the Mountain are waiting. After luxuriating in the various terrible ways she could exact her vengeance for Myrcella's murder, Cersei settles on sealing Tyene's fate in the same way Ellaria dispatched her own daughter: a poisonous kiss. Excited with this development, Cersei returns to her chambers and starts stripping down with Jaime.
They're awakened the next day with news of a visitor from Braavos: a representative from the Iron Bank come to expedite the repayment of the many loans they've made House Lannister and House Baratheon before them. Citing a loss of revenue from Dany abolishing slavery in Essos, the banker agrees to remain in King's Landing while Cersei gathers funds.
My take: I've complained enough in recaps, podcasts, and the real world about Euron's ability to sail in and out of King's Landing without drawing attention from Dragonstone, so I'll try not to dwell on it here. Instead, I'll focus on something else unusual: the Iron Bank of Braavos being irked by Dany damaging the slave trade. The First Law of Braavos forbids slavery, and the city's rulers have fought wars against slavers. The bank itself is better known for its discretion than morality, but like the city, it was founded by escaped Valyrian slaves.
LORE: THE IRON BANK OF BRAAVOS
The Bank's representative also seems skeptical of Cersei's insistence that the explosion at the Sept of Baelor was merely an accident. If the people of King's Landing believe her, it helps explain why they seem more amenable to Queen Cersei's reign than they were Joffrey's or Tommen's, but as Littlefinger would say, if the people believe that, "I have a delightful palace in Valyria that I would dearly love to sell."
Back to the all-powerful Euron; it looks to me like Cersei is setting him up to fall hard when she no longer has need of his fleet. She's no stranger to the clumsy advances of power-hungry men, and Euron's primary point of differentiation seems to be an extra dose of insanity. Cersei is happy to promise delivery of anything at the end of the war knowing how much can change by then. Whether Euron patiently plays along is another matter entirely, and I don't think he'll be content to do so. When the time comes, consistently antagonizing Jaime won't prove as easy or consequence-free as we've seen thus far.
Sansa wastes no time in assuming Jon's responsibilities, seeing to the food stores and optimal population management for winter. After tasking Lord Royce with seeing to the proper armorsmithing, she receives this advice Littlefinger:
Sansa is called to the gates, where she's reunited with Bran for the first time since she left Winterfell in Season 1. They retreat to Winterfell's godswood, but Sansa soon grows frustrated with Bran's vague and confusing answers to her questions. He tries to explain his newfound abilities as the Three-Eyed Raven as follows:
He demonstrates some of this extensive knowledge by telling her how sorry he is for what happened to her, detailing the night of her wedding to Ramsay Bolton.
My take: Sansa's willingness and aptitude for leading is highly satisfying if unsurprising at this point in her character arc. Bran is much less helpful upon his return to Winterfell; he uses more words repeating that the Three-Eyed Raven situation is difficult to explain than he does attempting to explain it, and his conversation with Sansa is disappointingly short after such a long time apart. Perhaps most frustrating is his reaction to the subject of Jon: "Yes. I need to speak to him." Assuming he wants to reveal information about his heritage, it seems like information he could send via raven. I don't think we have enough series left for this to wind up like Ned's promise to tell Jon about his mom "next time we see each other," but I'm starting to worry they'll wait until the end of Season 7 to get the information to Jon.
The advice Littlefinger gives Sansa and Bran's description of his own abilities are oddly similar, and I think it's setting up Bran to see or learn about Littlefinger's role in a number of acts he might be executed for, from his role in Ned's death to his possible role in the assassination attempt on Bran.
The archmaester conducts his review of Jorah's greyscale and declares him cured; there's extensive scarring, but he's no longer infectious and is discharged from the infirmary. Jorah thanks Sam and tells him he's headed for Dragonstone to reunite with Dany. Sam is gently rebuked by the archmaester for taking such a risk, and tasked with cleaning and copying old books as a punishment.
My take: I'm very relieved we weren't subjected to any further debriding, and it's nice to see the storyline moved along at such a brisk pace. While Sam's new task looks unenviable, I think Kat is right to suspect it's not purely a punishment; reading through ancient records is exactly what Sam likes to do, and it isn't hard to imagine him discovering more valuable information in their pages.
The Unsullied arrive at Casterly Rock and begin their assault, drawing attention away from Tyrion's hidden entrance with a more conventional attack on the walls. The fight is over quickly, but Grey Worm was expecting more Lannister soldiers. As he looks back towards their ships, he sees a Greyjoy fleet laying waste to his own.
My take: The Unsullied lived up to their reputation in their first battle on Westerosi soil, easily overrunning the Lannister troops after gaining access to the castle. Unfortunately, the preemptive departure of the greater Lannister army for Highgarden and the impeccable timing of the Greyjoy fleet both suggest their plan wasn't a secret. Unless Cersei suddenly became much better at anticipating her enemies' moves, she or someone in King's Landing has inside information. It would also line up nicely with the three betrayals prophecy Dany heard in the books.
LORE: THE PROPHECY OF THREE
Three episodes into the season, I'm not as concerned with the fortuitous movements of Lannister and Greyjoy forces as I am the overall information disparity between the two Queens. Euron has a reputation as a supremely skilled sailor, which could explain his ability to ambush Yara at night and identify her ship. But how could the Iron Islands build such a massive fleet and surprise Dany's forces on both sides of the continent without word of their movements reaching Dragonstone? Cersei's plan to seize Highgarden and its gold makes perfect sense in a lengthy war effort, but how could Lannister troops march all the way from King's Landing and Casterly Rock to Highgarden without Dany or her advisors getting word from anyone in Westeros? It seems to me that Cersei has inside knowledge of Dany's plans, but it also seems like Dany has no useful information whatsoever. The combination of those factors and the prophecy above makes me think there's a mole.
My leading candidate is Varys. He would presumably be tasked with collecting information leading up to and following their arrival in Dragonstone, and he was always good at doing so; now he can't even keep up with the movement of entire armies. What I can't figure out is why he would bother smuggling Tyrion to Dany if he was planning to betray her all along, or what might have happened to change his mind since then. He's certainly seemed uneasy lately, he acknowledges a checkered history pursuing his stated desires, and now he has Melisandre's parting words hanging over his head. I hope it isn't him, because I like Varys a lot, but it wouldn't be the first time the show blindsided me.
The bulk of the Lannister army, under Jaime and Randyll Tarly's command, arrives in Highgarden and easily routs its defenders. The Lannister soldiers are collecting large amounts of gold from the extremely wealthy House Tyrell while Jaime makes his way to Olenna's quarters. The Queen of Thorns asks how she'll die, and Jaime offers a vial of poison. She warns Jaime that his sister is a monster, and that his love for her will be his undoing, before drinking the poison. Before Jaime can leave, Olenna confesses to her role in killing Joffrey and asks Jaime to tell Cersei she was responsible.
My take: Jaime's ability to retain control is more remarkable every season. We've now seen him learn the identity of his first son's poisoner, listen to Euron's crude comments about sexing up his sister-lover, and hear Cersei dismiss his other dead son as a traitor. We haven't seen him crack yet, but he has to snap eventually. Will it be Cersei who pushes him over the edge? We think so!
Dragonflame Burn of the Week
R.I.P. Olenna Tyrell, the Queen of Thorns. Your withering wit will be missed.
Thanks for checking out our recap! If you need some more historical context for what you're seeing, you can check out our Game of Thrones Lore series, which details the history of Westeros and some of what we know of Essos. Check back for another recap next week, and until then, remember: "Everything before the word 'but' is horseshit."