Our penultimate episode for this season of HBO’s Game of Thrones begins with a sneaky bastard fire arrow attack on Stannis’ camp. While the survivors are probably grateful for the warmth, and the horse jerky, there were heavy losses. There’s no way to retreat now, and going forward without siege weapons (or horses, food, tents, morale, etc.) sounds like a recipe for freezing to death outside the walls of Winterfell.
Davos brings this up tactfully, and Stannis gives a meaningful glance at Red Mel. This will end well.
Further north, Jon Snow is back at the wall with a few thousand men, women, and children. And Wun Wun the lonely giant. There’s a grief staredown with Ser Alliser, who clearly can’t believe his eyes, but the gate does open. The welcoming reception mostly consists of stink-eye, and Jon is looking like he just watched a few thousand people die and be resurrected as ice zombies. Wun Wun the lonely giant is gonna get real tired of the staring soon.
Stannis is sending Davos off on an Important Mission, meaning he’s getting ready to do something stupid. Davos knows this, and he knows he’s never going to see Shireen alive again. No rowboat to put her in, so she gets a present and a kiss.
In the much warmer and cushier side of the world, Jaime is being marched off to brunch. It’s a working brunch, and much diplomacy is practiced. Prince Doran sends Myrcella packing, since she’s clearly in danger. He sends Trystane with her, to re-establish Dornish influence at the small council. He doesn’t kill Jaime, which is probably for the best. And he gives fair warning to Ellaria about her acting out. Jaime, for his part, secures Bronn’s release. Everybody wins.
We get a largely pointless scene with the Smokin’ Hot Bastards. Yes, they’re all pretty and badass, and the little one likes Bronn. We have two eps left here.
Bronn gets dragged to brunch, and gets let off with an elbow to the face. Bronn has had a shitty trip to Dorne.
Back in Braavos, Arya is going off mission, having spotted Ser Meryn Trant, who got on her death list by killing her beloved fencing teacher back in season one. Ser Meryn is here babysitting the buffoon Mace Tyrell, who has been sent to exasperate his bank manager.
Since this is an official junket, of course the security detail is going whoring the moment they are off duty. Arya tails them, earns a few coppers selling oysters, and gathers intel. She learns that Meryn is an asshole to his underlings and service providers, and likes his whores really young. She also gets close enough to be recognized, if Ser Short Eyes wasn’t so distracted.
Back at Project Mayhem, Arya lies to Capt. Jaquen, who pretends to let it slide.
Prince Doran pulls a power move, forcing Ellaria to swear allegiance in front of the SHBs. She’s shaking with rage, grief, and fear, but she forces herself to comply. It’s an ugly scene, followed by an odd and pointless scene with Jaime, which probably breaks down to a threat against Cersei, but who knows.
And, inexorably, Stannis does the stupid thing. It is presented to us plainly, unflinchingly. We are there for the whole process; we hear Shireen plead and scream, and stop screaming.
My only thoughts are: Were the men holding Selyse back trying to stop her from saving Shireen, or from harming herself? Were they obeying Stannis, or was it an act of conscience?
Fuck it, I want Stannis dead. If I could root for the Boltons, I would.
Back in Mereen, we get some lovely CGI, and a lot of bloviating from Daario the Sleaze, and the first use of decapitation as a punchline (I think). Hizdar the Lorax does a bit of smug 1% bloviating of his own, which bores Tyrion and annoys Dany. Tyrion’s just finished shutting Hiz down when a familiar voice is heard from the pit.
Jorah, you silly son of a bitch. Dany gives a prim little golf clap, and Jorah’s got one last chance to impress her. He takes out a huge spearman, barely, then gets cut to ribbons by what looks to be a genuine water dancer. Water dancer is not watching his back, though, and is denied his coup de grace.
Technically, Jorah is the victor once he drops the remaining spearman, but before he can get his trophy the Sons of the Harpy mask up and start mass-murdering just whoever the hell. Chaos ensues; Hiz gets shanked, Tyrion gets a kill, and Jorah’s back on the team. However, it looks like the Sons are just handing out masks and cutlery to whoever the fuck asks. Dany and her remaining brain trust are surrounded, and it looks a bit like the end until DROGON swoops in and flame-broils 20 Sons before they even think to start lobbing spears.
Best moment of the whole ep? Drogon making hound-dog eyes at Dany. I about bawled.
And I hope Dany is wearing some motorbike chaps under that sundress. She is gonna be chafed all to hell when they stop for snacks on the way to wherever the hell they’re off to.
Second best moment of the whole ep? The “what now?” expressions on all the faces of Dany’s brain trust as she flies off. Poor Tyrion just got this gig.
Next week? Season Finale. What’s left? Siege of Winterfell. Can hardly wait.