Reply All: A Game of Thrones Email Exchange – “The Queen’s Justice”
If you missed last week’s email exchange, you can read it here. If you missed Matt’s top moments from this episode, you can see them here. More importantly, why would you miss this stuff in the first place? Be sure to check back for podcast episode review this week.
Here’s this week’s exchange for the fourth episode of season seven, “The Queen’s Justice”.
KEITH: Praise be to the Lord of Light, that was an episode. Finally, finally, we got to see the union of ice and fire that we’ve been waiting for. Finally, finally, we got a bit of a Stark reunion. And finally, finally, we got to see Jaime score a victory over one of his enemies.
Let’s start at the start. I’m really glad that we opened on Jon’s arrival at Dragonstone, because having to sit through the entire episode for this would have been an exercise in cruelty. His initial conversation with Tyrion, including the beautiful “I’m not a Stark” line followed immediately by a flyover from one of Dany’s dragons made me smile. I swear it feels like we’re just counting the moments until Jon finally learns his true heritage and the show is needling our shared anticipation. Anyway, I feel like if this conversation hadn’t gone as well as it did, perhaps Tyrion wouldn’t have been as willing to backchannel with Jon later on once it was clear that Daenerys hadn’t made up her mind about how to handle this man from the North.
That said, I loved the interaction between Jon and Dany. It wasn’t the instant buddy-buddy love fest/family reunion we might have been expecting, but I feel like it played out true to both of their characters. Daenerys was focused exclusively on ensuring that the North would be falling in line with her bid to the Iron Throne, and her reaction when Jon refused to bend the knee was to be expected. She’s surrounded herself with the smartest Westerosi she could find and seems to forget that people all over that continent are going to be tying her to the actions of her father. Couple that with the fact that—true to character—Jon’s focus is exclusively on doing what needs to be done to combat the army of the dead and you’ve got two incredibly important and influential people butting heads. Thank goodness Tyrion was there to ease the relationship a little. I’m so, so excited to see where this goes.
How did you feel about the meeting of Ice and Fire?
NICK: The dragon buzzing the tower immediately after Jon says “I’m not a Stark” was so on the nose that I actually rolled my eyes. The reaction of the northern representatives though was great, and Tyrion’s “ you get used to them, but not really” comment was classic. I’m glad he’s getting more lines that harken back to his witty self from earlier seasons that has been a bit lacking over the last season and a half. As for the meeting of Jon and Dany, I’m glad it wasn’t a simple trade of fealty for dragonglass. Earlier this season Jon spoke with his northern lords about children not paying for the sins of their fathers, and that debate pops up again during his time with the Mother of Dragons. Dany tries using an in perpetuity pact made years ago as leverage for Jon’s loyalty, but he’s not falling for it. Dany says Jon shouldn’t judge her because her father was the Mad King, and Jon fires back that he shouldn’t bend the knee because of something his ancestors did years ago. So begins the temporary stalemate.
Six seasons later, and we get another excellent Jon and Tyrion interaction. I’m sure the Queen’s Hand was expecting Jon to comply without argument, but Jon’s not a pushover anymore. Here, Tyrion does what he does best: talk sense into people. With the Greyjoy allies down to two or three ships (thanks Uncle Euron), and the Dornish queen captured, Dany suddenly finds herself with allies falling left and right, and she still hasn’t started her quest to King’s Landing. After a brooding debate and Jon relinquishing the true reason for his visit, Tyrion wisely uses that to help diffuse the tension between the two relatives. The Dragon Queen’s presumption is that if Jon gets what he wants, he’ll back her claim down the road. At this point Jon doesn’t care what happens south of the wall until the army of the undead is…dead.
Since Tyrion convinced Dany to take things slow and attack Casterly Rock, I wondered why the home of the Lannisters held such importance in the current timeline. Is the Rock only important because it’s the Lannister homestead, and Tyrion holds it in higher regard than Jaime or Cersei? Who was even lording over Casterly Rock? It’s been mentioned a lot throughout the series, but we never spent time there, and both Jaime and Cersei refused to go back when King Tommen suggested it. How important can the place be, if the children of the ruling family refuse to go? Only Tyrion had previously expressed interest in being Lord of Casterly Rock a few seasons ago, and Tywin immediately shot that idea down. Look at where Casterly Rock is on the map—ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CONTINENT! The Unsullied army had to sail down, around, and up to get there. For Dany’s purpose, this doesn’t make a lot of sense. For Tyrion’s personal vengeance, it does. He just didn’t count on the fact that Cersei was willing to give it up and go after Highgarden to help settle a debt with the Iron Bank. And while Grey Worm and the Unsullied are victorious in a meek battle on land, Euron shows up and offers another blow to Dany’s ships.
Cersei has always been evil, but now she’s embracing her fall down the rabbit hole as we saw in this episode. What did you think of her chat with Ellaria and Tyene in the cell? Of all the horrible things that have happened, this imagery Cersei offers is gut wrenching.
KEITH: I think the emphasis on Casterly Rock was due to the fact that, despite Cersei and Jaime being in King’s Landing, it was still the true seat of power for the most powerful family in Westeros. Not only that, but I think the potential for a symbolic victory in taking the rock made it a prime target. It wasn’t actually hitting the capital, but it was a pretty damned close second. Of course, Cersei and Jaime really knew that the Rock didn’t hold a whole lot of import other than being their ancestral home, so they were willing to follow Robb Stark’s model and strategically sucker punch their little brother and his new queen with the move to Highgarden.
And speaking of that move, that’s far more than settling a debt with the Iron Bank, that move took out the wealthiest family in the Seven Kingdoms, installed a Warden of the South that’s loyal to the crown, and dealt a major blow to Daenerys’ army. It’s amazing to me that in the span of two episodes we’ve seen Cersei go from being so completely screwed it’s not even funny to reestablishing control over a significant portion of the continent. I know that a lot of that has to do with the pacing decisions that are being made by Weiss and Benioff, but it really helps to drive home how strong the decisions that Cersei has been making really are.
Of course, this is all really riding on the back of her new alliance with Euron Greyjoy, which is everything that I’d hoped it would be and more. His return to King’s Landing echoed some of the imagery of Cersei’s walk of shame, and his conversation with Jaime about how to please the queen had me wondering how and when Jaime’s going to be killing him. And that gift of Ellaria Sand.
That was most certainly not the gift that I had been imagining, although it makes perfect sense. While we still don’t really know how the heck he managed to find the Theon/Yara section of the Iron Fleet, we do know that this murderous nut knows exactly what kind of murderous nut his new queen is, and we know that he knows she’d love the opportunity to take revenge on the woman who killed Myrcella. The way that she enacts this revenge is absolutely brutal, though not unexpected. Cersei’s definitely one for a symbolic gesture (remember how she dealt with Septa Unella), so the fact that she kills Tyene with the same poison that Ellaria used made sense. Her description of the extent of Ellaria’s punishment is also every bit as logical, as she would want to make this woman suffer as much as humanly possible. I can’t imagine anything worse than watching your daughter’s corpse rot in front of you.
Speaking of gut wrenching, how about Bran’s return to Winterfell?
NICK: I am so excited about Euron. All the villains thus far in the show have carried out their plans through whispers, schemes, and back alley dealings, and now we have a guy that’s a full-on entertainer. His entrances might as well have loud, post-grunge rock songs like a WWE heel. He plays to the crowd, lacks any sort of humility, and is completely enthralled with pushing Jaime’s buttons. He’s been in front of the Queen twice, and both times he’s verbally taunted the Kingslayer with so much trash talk that even Draymond Green couldn’t help but cringe. He’s become the braggadocios savior to Cersei’s reign, and the pressure is building towards that sweet moment when someone brings Euron’s whirlwind escapades to an end. I think Jaime and Cersei are the obvious suitors for his eventual death. Jaime hates the way Euron digs at him, and Cersei is obviously stalling Euron’s proposal until the war is over, at which point she’ll no longer need him and might just take him out herself. She’s not exactly full of moral fiber.
I don’t know about you, but when Sansa was called to the front gate my immediate reaction was that it was in fact Bran. Lo and behold, the teenage visionary returned to his home and had a reunion with his older sister that was devoid of any semblance of emotion. I mean, I get that he’s gone through a lot and he can see the past and parts of the future and whatnot, but the last time he saw Sansa his entire family was still alive. I know his legs don’t work, but dude’s arms are still functional and he couldn’t throw one of them around his sister? And what was that conversation with Sansa?
Bran: “Yo, Sans, I’m the Three-Eyed Raven, but it’s impossible to explain.”
Sansa: “Try anyway.”
Bran: “Nah. Instead I’m going to tell you about your wedding night with Ramsay so you can relive those memories.”
I know it’s difficult to believe, but with everything these two have been through Sansa deserved a little more from Bran. (He’s so emo they should call him Bran New). (Sorry). Anyway, Bran’s biggest concern was that he had to tell Jon something and couldn’t give the time of day to Sansa. Granted, his knowledge of Jon’s lineage is about to change the game, but with Jon off in Dragonstone, couldn’t he have done a little better with Sansa?
Prior to that scene, I really enjoyed Sansa’s tongue lashing of Littlefinger. She was hitting him with left and right hooks to the point where he almost didn’t know what to say, a first for him.
Sansa is becoming more and more confident with each passing episode, and it’s demonstrated in full effect in this scene. She’s learned to spot Littlefinger’s lies and tricks, and though he still has some hold on her, his grip is weakening. I’m not sure how much longer we’ll have Lord Petyr Baelish in this game of life and death, but I get the feeling time is running short.
KEITH: I’m right there with you on Bran’s return to Winterfell. Like, I get that he’s become the Three Eyed Raven and that this level of psychic power and responsibility is going to distance him from regular humans, but come on dude. You’ve just spent how many years not seeing your sister and the first thing that you think to do is remind her of Ramsay? That’s just not cool.
But, the upside to Sansa’s segments in this episode are getting to watch her actually be the ruler of Winterfell. Right from the start we get the sense that she’s way better at this than Jon is (at least from the day-to-day managing of a kingdom side of things). She’s involved in walking through the castle, delegating tasks and making sure that everything is taken care of. Tyrion was right: it’s so good that she’s finally starting to let on about just how smart she is.
Her scene with Littlefinger worries me, though. His advice that she fight every battle in her mind at all times perhaps suggests that he’s already fought and won this battle with her and her brother in his mind and all he’s doing is sitting back awaiting his moment. I couldn’t help but shake Varys’ warning that Littlefinger would burn the Seven Kingdoms to the ground so long as he could be king of the ashes, and I’m wondering if we don’t see some last grasp for power on his part before our time with the slimiest man in Westeros comes to a close.
One thing that we have yet to touch on is Sam in the Citadel. I’m not going to lie, I’m really quite surprised that he wasn’t instantly expelled for treating Jorah. I loved this segment because not only does it bring Jorah back as an advisor for Daenerys, but it puts Sam in the position to learn a whole lot of things as he copies all of those scrolls. I feel like this is kind of like the Citadel’s version of grooming him for command—they’re putting him in front of as much text as possible so that he can read it, absorb it, and use that knowledge to benefit the realm.
NICK: Sam’s successful abolition of Jorah’s Greyscale seemed too easy. All those smart maesters-to-be and they had trouble following instructions like Sam did? I understand it’s a meticulous process, but aren’t maesters supposed to be meticulous about…everything? After the last episode, I also thought this might be the thing that gets Sam booted from the Citadel, but because the procedure was successful he gets to re-write brittle scrolls instead. It’s all but certain now that somewhere in that parchment pile is a revelation waiting to be revealed by Eagle Eye Tarly. Scrolls are about to play a big part in what’s going on in Westeros. During Sansa’s delegation of duties at Winterfell, Maester Wolken mentioned that Maester Luwin (RIP) kept record of every raven scroll that came in, and the look Littlefinger flashes him is one of surprise and concern. Old scrolls are like my mail. Most of the time other stuff gets piled on top and becomes forgotten, so between Sam’s new duty and Wolken’s intent to check Luwin’s records, there’s bound to be some bits of very important info that will come to light. Given Littlefinger’s glance, perhaps there’s something that incriminates him and gives Sansa the reason she needs to put him out of commission. Maybe one of these scrolls contains proof of Jon’s parentage to back up Bran’s eventual reveal.
Can we half-mast the flags for Lady Olenna? The Queen of Thorns with words as her weapon was able to get one last, twisting stab at the Lannister twins before the poison took over. I won’t go into it too much because I know you’ve got some thoughts, but man that interaction was so good.
KEITH: It. Was. Glorious.
It was wonderful to finally get to see Jaime get the better of one of his enemies, and the way that he just marches through Highgarden on his way to Olenna’s room was fantastic. We’ve spent so many years watching him fail in his grandest ambitions, so seeing him get a win here was pretty sweet.
Of course, this scene wasn’t really about Jaime, it was about bidding farewell to one of the best characters on Game of Thrones. The Queen of Thorns knows she’s not leaving that room, and asking how she’s going to be killed gives her the perspective on just how long she can wait until she delivers that final barb to Jaime. I also happened to be a big fan of how she segued into telling him that she killed his son. Noting that Jaime carries Widow’s Wail not only gave her the perfect in for her final barb, but it lets viewers know that Jaime’s now carrying a Valyrian steel sword. I’m curious to see who he uses it on.
Anything in particular that you wanted to highlight about that final scene?
NICK: I’ll agree that this scene was a nice goodbye for Lady Olenna, but how much does her confession change things for Jaime? Hearing this admission of guilt clears Tyrion of having a part in Joffrey’s death. Maybe Jaime had a hunch all along, but now he’s certain. Something clicked inside the Kingslayer’s head when he heard who was behind his son’s murder, and I think his next conversation with Cersei will play a huge role in where the two stand going forward. I think there’s about to be a big change between the Lannister twins, and I can’t wait to see what effects it has on them.
We’ve seen Jaime in vastly different lights. When he’s with Cersei he’s cold and fearlessly dedicated to her and only her. When he’s with Brienne, he’s open, honest, and hints at the potential goodness that lies somewhere inside of him. Sooner or later something is going to give and one will win out over the other. TBD.
You’re right. It was pretty cool to see Jaime atop a horse as the Lannister army marched on Highgarden. You mentioned his repeated failures over the course of this series, and now he’s scored a major victory using a lesson the Young Wolf once taught him. Backed by the Tarlys and Bronn, one thing dawned on me: Tyrion and Bronn are now on opposite sides of this war. It genuinely bummed me out that the man who was once Tyrion’s companion and life-saver is now visually entrenched in the Lannister military. I know he was given knight status a season or two ago, but because he’s been off-screen for some time it didn’t click until this episode they’d be fighting against each other.
Great, now I’m worrying about Tyrion and Bronn meeting in battle and figuring out if they should try to kill each other or not. Distract my thoughts and tell me what you’re looking forward to most next week with a trailer that teases the long-lost Valyrian steel dagger.
KEITH: Gah, no! I had totally forgotten about the Tyrion/Bronn conflict of interest. Ah well, this is Game of Thrones.
I am really excited to see where that dagger comes from, how it makes its return, and who ends up carrying it. The closer we get to the eventual battle with the White Walkers the more Valyrian steel takes a center stage, so we’re likely to have a rather significant sequence surrounding its reveal. My hopes are that it lands with Arya and she shoves the thing through somebody’s heart.
I’m also super stoked on seeing what Dany has in mind when she says “enough with the clever plans.” Clearly she’s referencing Tyrion’s attempts at strategy, but how far in the other direction does she choose to go? And how does Theon work his way back into things?
How about yourself, Ser Nick of House Hershey?
NICK: Oh man, really hope Arya somehow ends up with that dagger, though it’s nearly certain she will given that Maisie Williams was pictured with it on a cover of Entertianment Weekly. Regardless, I’m still immensely interested in how it winds up in her possession. The last time we saw the dagger in season one, Littlefinger was in charge of it. Does he still have it? Does Arya steal it from him or possibly even kill him? My guess is Luwin’s scrolls hold a secret to Littlefinger’s involvement with Bran’s assassination attempt, so maybe he willfully hands the dagger off to someone else this episode to get rid of the evidence.
As much as I hate Cersei, every move she makes is now incredibly important and worth paying close attention to. She continues to receive the backing of the Iron Bank and her cunning ability to play the Game is as impressive as ever. She’s steadily regaining control.
Also there’s a brief clip of Pod falling face first, which means he’s probably practicing with Brienne. Anytime we get to see her beat up on poor Podrick Payne is a fun scene in my book. Watch your back, Pod!
Check out the trailer below for episode four, and be sure to come back after it airs for more Game of Thrones content.
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