“Many will die no matter what we do. Better them than us.”
This week’s Game of Thrones episode felt like the gathering of the forces before the climactic battle. All of this week’s players made some kind of alliance, deal, or shifting of forces. And one major character made a massive power play. It was a bummer not to see some characters that had really strong storylines last week, such as Arya and Bran. However, the reunion between Sansa and Jon was amazing; plus it’s always fun to watch Tyrion drink and outsmart everyone in the room.
Sansa’s finally home. It’s really nice to see Sansa finally reach a family member after season upon season of her searching, failing, and being repeatedly abused. The opening conversation between her and Jon shows how much Sansa has grown and been shaped by her experiences these past few seasons. Her apologies to Jon for being terrible to him when they were children, as well as her strength in reading Ramsay’s letter and responding with strength, show a strong will and deep maturity – a will that can motivate Jon to action, who is still adrift and lost since his resurrection.
Over in Meereen, Tyrion met with the masters of the slave cities in Slaver’s Bay to negotiate peace. I liked the compromise suggested by Tyrion to the masters. A seven year deadline to end the institution of slavery is a reasonable length of time to find something to replace it with. It’s certainly better than Daenerys’ plan of smashing the chains, but not providing any sort of plan after that. Even though Missandei, Grey Worm, and the former slaves are reasonably upset that Tyrion would deal with these slavers, Tyrion rightly points out that “Slavery is evil. War is evil. I can’t end both at once.” I highly doubt the masters will keep their end of the bargain, but I’m fairly confident Tyrion and Varys are prepared for their sudden, but inevitable betrayal.
Back in the North, Ramsay remains invincibly evil. Osha tried to use her womanly charms to seduce then murder him like she did to a few Northmen back in season 2, but with disastrous results. The whole sequence between the two felt wholly unnecessary. Just another scene showing that Ramsay is the worst and he always knows what you’re going to do before you do it. It was tragic seeing Osha go; it felt like an anticlimactic sendoff to an interesting character.
Theon’s also back this episode. He’s bent on returning to the Iron Islands in a bid to help his sister Yara take the throne over there.
In King’s Landing, lines have been drawn and we’re gearing up for a Lannister vs High Sparrow battle – a battle not with words, but with weapons. Cersei and the Queen of Thorns have cast aside their differences to prevent the High Sparrow from humiliating Margaery the same way Cersei was. The episode is titled Book of the Stranger and the High Sparrow’s conversation with Margaery reveals why. Jonathon Pryce continues to do an excellent job as the calm, determined, fanatic leader. The scene where he calmly reveals how he became a religious fanatic and his distaste for his old life and the lives of “normal” people is arguably the best part of the episode.
Finally, Daenerys makes her move. I’m glad we didn’t have too many episodes of Dany in Vaes Dothrak because it would be hard to keep her storyline interesting if she’s just hanging out with crones all day. Using Jorah and Daario, she quickly reestablishes herself as the head of the Dothraki. Though it felt a little too reminiscent of the season one finale, it was still a pretty awesome scene. Dany standing amidst the flames as the Dothraki horde bowed before made Dany relevant again in the Game of Thrones. Maybe now she can finally break the wheel.
Littlefinger also returns, albeit rather briefly. Sadly, we don’t see him reconnect with Sansa, but he does quickly take command of the Vale. He has little Robyn wrapped around his finger as poor Commander Royce discovered. The Vale will finally become involved in the wars and as Littlefinger put it, “It’s time to enter the fray.”
In summary, this week’s Game of Thrones seemed like the shifting of the chess pieces into the correct positions before executing your gambit. Sansa, Jon, and the wildlings are uniting to take back Winterfell. Tyrion and Varys are using diplomacy and negotiation to stave off the slaver cities. Littlefinger’s maneuvering the army of the Vale. Keep in mind, the Vale is the only place untouched by all the wars and strife. Their army could be a deciding force in the battles to come. I personally think the Vale will side with Jon and the wildlings, especially after Sansa tells Littlefinger how horrible Ramsay was to her. Civil war is about to strike Kings Landing as the Lannisters and the Sparrows build their armies. Daenerys has returned to a powerful position and it will be interesting to see how she views Tyrion’s deals.
This post was originally written by Patrick Dodd.