Game of Thrones S07E07 “The Dragon and the Wolf” Review

 

 

mv5bytjhmtiwogmtntc4ni00n2iylwe0mzctmzm3otgxnznlywzjxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjc3mjq4mdu-_v1_sy1000_sx1500_al_

Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) confronts Jon (Kit Harington) over his rash decision. Copyright: HBO.

Game of Thrones concludes its seventh and penultimate season with an absolute beast of a season finale that leaves us a lot to unpack.

The main plot thread of this episode was the parlay between Jon, Daenerys and Cersei (with their respective allies and advisors gathered around). The main goal of this parlay, was Jon and Daenerys hoping to convince Cersei to agree to a ceasefire; allowing Jon and Daenerys to deal with the White Walker threat without worrying about Cersei and her army. This parlay was one of the best parts of the episode, simply because it was the first time most of the show’s cast have been in the same scene together. Not only is it the first time Daenerys has shared a scene with Cersei, Qyburn, Brienne, Euron etc. but it’s the first time Jon has been in the same scene as Cersei and Jaime since the pilot episode.

It’s hard to describe exactly how tense this scene was to begin with. Cersei not showing up at first made me slightly worried that it was another trap similar to when Cersei blew up the Sept back in Season 6. Thankfully this was not the case and we were treated to some wonderful interactions between the show’s entire main cast – bar the crew at Winterfell and the Wall.

Cersei and Daenerys not so subtly giving each other the stink eye, Cersei giving Brienne the stink eye, Cersei giving pretty much everyone the stink eye, all of it was glorious. What made this work so well however was when Sandor unleashed the Wight. Seeing Cersei absolutely crap her pants was completely worth it. Cersei thankfully did not try to dismiss it all as a trick, and agreed that the White Walkers had to be dealt with. This was a surprising bit of rationality for the character, but it was quickly ended when Cersei refused to continue negotiations when she learned Jon had bent the knee to Daenerys.

mv5bmjawotg0mdm1nf5bml5banbnxkftztgwotg0odmzmzi-_v1_sy1000_cr0015021000_al_

Cersei (Lena Heady) schemes to wipe out all her enemies. Copyright: HBO.

This led Tyrion having to brave being alone in a room with the woman who hates his guts and has tried to kill him several times. The show has always thrived when it puts two of its best actors together and alone in the same scene. And this was one of those scenes. Lena Heady and Peter Dinklage were amazing in this scene. What’s interesting is the show’s decision to cut away from this scene, leaving exactly what terms Tyrion and Cersei agreed on a mystery. Whatever it was, it seems that Jon and Daenerys’s romance is going to throw a stone in all of Tyrion’s plans. Did Tyrion try and arrange a marriage between Cersei and Jon? Did Tyrion promise that Cersei’s child would rule after Daenerys, since Tyrion seemed to be urging Daenerys to name an heir in the last episode? Whatever it is, it probably isn’t going to end well.

Cersei and Tyrion then returned to the negotiations and Cersei promised to send her armies north to help fight the White Walkers. But this was all a ploy, as Cersei later revealed to Jaime that she had no intention of doing so. She instead planned for the White Walkers and Daenerys/Jon to wipe each other out, so Cersei can then mop up what’s left with the Golden Company. Jaime was horrified, pointing out the massive flaw in her plan; that the winner of the battle in the North will march south and kill them and they will be unstoppable. Cersei was set in her madness however and this led to Jaime to finalise his path to redemption; by abandoning Cersei for good. It seems the popular fan theory that Jaime will be the Valonquar (the little brother prophesised to kill Cersei in the books) is looking more true. And, in a turning point, as Jaime headed north to Winterfell, snow began to fall and cover King’s Landing. Winter has finally come.

mv5byjgymzq1ymutntmxyy00y2yxlthkoditnjizndm2mwjingixxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynzu2nduwnw-_v1_

Petyr Baelish AKA “Littlefinger” (Aidan Gillen) schemes his last. Copyright: HBO.

Meanwhile in Winterfell, Littlefinger continued his ploy to turn Sansa and Arya against each other by telling Sansa to imagine Arya’s worst motives for doing the things she’s done. Sansa seemed to be buying Littlefinger’s logic and called Arya to the great hall, seemingly putting her on trial. Sansa however then revealed that she’d seen through Littlefinger’s scheme and had put him on trial instead. Aidan Gillen has always been a talented member of the cast and he acted his ass off here showing Littlefinger as he truly is; a coward determined to save his own skin above all. Littlefinger was never going to last much longer, so for him to go out by vastly underestimating how much control he had was a fitting way for the character to go. And his death managed to bring Arya and Sansa closer together, so it was a win-win. It was also nice to see Sansa putting Bran’s skills to use at last.

Speaking of Bran, he and Sam managed to drop the (second) biggest shock of the episode; that Jon Snow is not Jon Snow. Bran and Sam, combining their knowledge, learned that Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark were married in secret and Jon Snow is not Rhaegar’s bastard but his trueborn son; Aegon Targaryen and the true heir to the Iron Throne. This throws a spanner in the works certainly, if Jon is the heir to the throne, how does this leave him and Daenerys? Will the two marry and rule together? Or will the knowledge they’re related change everything?

And of course, this episode saw the culmination of this season’s biggest budding relationship. That’s right, Jon Snow (or Aegon?) and Daenerys finally got together. The two have been slowly falling in love across the entire season and to end the season on them finally consummating that love made a lot of sense. But this romance has a lot of potential to cause trouble over the final season so it will be interesting to see it develop. I oddly find myself rooting for the two to stay together, perhaps because the two have excellent chemistry and also because the two have endured so much that I want them to have a bit of happiness.

mv5byti1mdm3mwqtyzq1mc00yzfiltgzmwitzji1nmvlmjjmmtdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynzgzmje3njg-_v1_sy1000_sx1500_al_

Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) grows concerned over his sister’s growing madness. Copyright HBO. 

Director Jeremy Podewsa did a fantastic job on this episode, with The Dragon and the Wolf being perhaps one of the best directed episodes of the season. Ramin Djawadi however is the true standout of this episode, doing a fantastic job with the score. Tracks like Truth, No One Walks Away From Me/Winter Is Here and Army of the Dead were fantastic and are still stuck in my head. Djawadi has always been a major part of the show and he was just as good here with the themes of Jon, Daenerys, Cersei and the White Walkers all getting new variations and improvements; with No One Walks Away From Me, playing as Jaime abandons Cersei, mixing both Cersei’s “mad queen” theme and the Lannister theme while Army of the Dead, played in the final scene, mixing all variations of the White Walker theme into one glorious suite.

And speaking of that final scene – wow. All I can say. Wow. We’ve been waiting seven seasons for the White Walkers to reach the Wall, and they did so with style. Riding on the back of the undead Viserion, the Night King destroyed Eastwatch and burst a massive breach in the Wall large enough for his army to cross. It was horrifying and strangely beautiful, featuring some of the best special effects work the show has ever seen. With the White Walkers crossing into Westeros, it’s certainly the sign that the story has reached its end. Now literally anything happen.

mv5bzgq0nja4nwyty2e1os00ytaxlwjinjytngmwzjeymmvjn2jhxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjc3odu2mjm-_v1_

Astride the undead Viserion, the Night King (Vladimir Furdik) destroys the Wall. Copyright HBO.

The Dragon and the Wolf perhaps emerged as one of the show’s best season finales. I was gripped throughout and was an absolute magnificent close to an amazing season. With only six episodes left, I can only hope the show can keep to this high standard for the rest of its run. 

10/10

Advertisements

Game of Thrones S07E06 “Beyond The Wall” Review

mv5bmja2oty5oteynl5bml5banbnxkftztgwnzm5mtkymzi-_v1_sx1777_cr001777999_al_

The Night King (Vladimir Furdik) prepares to make his move. Copyright: HBO

Game of Thrones took us Beyond the Wall for perhaps our most in depth, most intense and most frightening encounter with the White Walkers yet in an exciting episode that delivered plenty of action, story and character development.

The main plot thread of this week’s episode was Jon Snow’s brave band of warriors, consisting of Jorah Mormont, Tormund, Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr, Sandor Clegane and Gendry, on a mission to capture a live Wight in order to use it as evidence of the White Walker threat and convince Cersei to lend her aid.

And of course this plan falls to pieces very quickly. This led to a desperate fight for survival for Jon’s team while Gendry ran for help, with these sequences being some of the best of the episode. Sequences with the White Walkers have always been some of the best the show has to offer, possibly because it’s so very different from what the show usually does. Every time the Walkers show up, the characters are always on the back foot, always fighting just to escape. The Walker attack on Hardhome and the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave were excellent sequences and the White Walker attack here emerges as the best of them. They were utterly terrifying, standing and waiting for the ice to freeze so they could swarm Jon and co. I’d go on to say that this was perhaps the most terrifying the White Walkers have ever been, for this episode gave them another few qualities. Not only are they smart; clearly setting a trap for Jon but they’re also incredibly patient. And that’s a worrying quality for an enemy to have. This really sent the message that the Night King is a force to be reckoned with. Not only is he incredibly powerful, but he’s incredibly smart as well.

mv5botcznzm4mte2mv5bml5banbnxkftztgwmjm5mtkymzi-_v1_sx1777_cr001777999_al_

Jon (Kit Harington) and the group make a desperate escape. Copyright: HBO

And then we move onto the biggest development of this episode. Daenerys arrives on her dragons to save Jon and friends only for the Night King to throw an ice spear and kill one of Daenerys’s Dragons; Viserion. A moment that was surprisingly shocking and emotional, it pulled at the heart strings seeing the Dragon viewers have seen grow up from hatchling to die an incredibly painful death. This act achieved several things. It gave Daenerys her first major defeat on the open field; Daenerys has won every battle she’s fought so far so for her to suffer such a crippling loss is a very humbling moment for the character. This is reflected later in the episode where after Jon bends the knee, Daenerys says “I hope I deserve it”, showing how incredibly humbled Daenerys has become after her loss no longer as sure of herself. The death of Viserion also gave the Night King his biggest advantage yet; a Wight Dragon to add to his army. Exactly what sort of powers a Wight Dragon will possess are currently unknown (will it still be able to breathe fire for instance), but one thing is certain; this tips the balance of the war for the dawn in the Night King’s favour.

One thing the episode did well in this portion was giving all of Jon’s team chances to interact with each other; allowing the audience to grow attached to them a little more especially with characters like Beric and Thoros who haven’t had as much screen time as the others. This made Thoros’s death more touching than it would have been otherwise and set the stage for audiences to fear for the character’s lives. The moment where Tormund was being dragged under the ice by Wights had me certain that the fan-favourite character was doomed. Thankfully Tormund lives to boast another day. A lot of the episode’s humour came from this segment as well, with Sandor’s perfectly timed utterance of “Fuck” upon realising the ice had frozen over making me laugh out loud as well as perfectly mirroring exactly how the audience felt at that moment.

mv5bmjq1nza5mtg3n15bml5banbnxkftztgwntm5mtkymzi-_v1_sy1000_cr0015021000_al_

Arya (Maisie Williams) prepares to play “the game of faces”. Copyright: HBO

Back in Winterfell, we saw Littlefinger continue to play Arya and Sansa off each other and the two seemingly playing into his hands. Littlefinger, after allowing Arya to find a letter Sansa wrote to Robb while a hostage of the Lannisters back in Season 1, began to place seeds of doubt in Sansa’s mind; warning her that Brienne is sworn to serve both Stark daughters and could take Arya’s side if she and Sansa were to be at odds. This led Sansa to send Brienne and Podrick away from Winterfell, sending them to represent her interests at the parlay in King’s Landing, in order to remove them from being a possible obstacle in whatever intentions she has for Arya. Arya meanwhile continues to believe that Sansa intends to usurp Jon and become Queen of the North and the letter is proof, in her eyes, that Sansa’s loyalties are always with herself and not with her family; which would be a grave offence for the daughter of a Stark and a Tully – two family oriented houses (House Tully’s words are “Family, Duty, Honour” indicating the order of priorities for the family and Ned Stark once told his children “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives” indicating that the family needs to stick together).

This ended in a confrontation between Sansa and Arya, as Sansa discovered Arya’s collection of faces. Arya seemed to threaten Sansa, detailing how easy it would be for her to kill Sansa, take her face and become her. This greatly unnerved Sansa, but it was how Arya ended this conversation that interested me. After advancing on Sansa with the Valyrian dagger, Arya then flipped it around and gave it, handle first, to Sansa before turning her back on her and leaving the room. To me, this indicates something about the two. Was this Arya telling Sansa that she has no intentions of harming her and thus isn’t a threat? A simpler way of telling Sansa this instead of just saying it? “Words are wind” after all, so perhaps doing this is an easier way of making Sansa believe Arya means no harm to her. It could also indicate Arya showing she trusts Sansa for to someone like Arya, who has had several attempts on her life, giving someone a dagger and turning your back to them would require a great deal of trust. Perhaps this is Arya trying to tell Sansa that she trusts her and trusts that she’s doing what’s right?  Could this be an indication that the Stark sisters are going to outplay Littlefinger? That the pack of the Stark family will outlive the lone wolf that is Littlefinger?

mv5bmtu3mtkymtc4ml5bml5banbnxkftztgwmju5mtkymzi-_v1_sy1000_cr0015021000_al_

Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) advises Daenerys (Emilia Clarke). Copyright: HBO

At Dragonstone, Tyrion confronted Daenerys over her reckless behaviour and her putting off the matter of naming an heir if she were to die. Daenerys was having none of it, arguing her behaviour was justified and that the matter of succession doesn’t matter until she’s queen. Both parties had a point here; while Tyrion was pushing for Daenerys to be more fair and lenient, Daenerys knows that doesn’t work after her time ruling Meereen. She also wasn’t discussing a matter of succession to perhaps not give Tyrion another potential ruler to abandon Daenerys for/organise a coup for. Perhaps Daenerys feels that even though she trusts Tyrion, she doesn’t want to give him a way to abandon her. She could even see this as Tyrion looking for a reason to abandon her, with Tyrion seemingly growing a little disenchanted with Daenerys over the past few episodes. Tyrion did rightfully call out that Jon and Daenerys had fallen in love however, so he may push Daenerys to marry Jon for the political benefits and perhaps also hoping Jon could balance out Daenerys’s more volatile personality traits. Either way, the Daenerys/Tyrion relationship is on rocky ground and is a bomb waiting to go off.

One of the more important developments in this episode however was Jon and Daenerys finally realising they had fallen in love. Daenerys standing vigil over the wounded Jon’s bedside, Jon clinging onto her hand, the long gazes held between them, all of it showed that these two characters have fallen deeply in love. Exactly how this relationship will pan out, especially when it’s revealed the two are related, remains to be seen but the relationship is one I’m rooting for especially as Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke share fantastic chemistry together. While the two have yet to actually come out and say they have fallen in love with the other, they both know it. The entire series seems to be pushing them to get together; the overall name of the franchise is “A Song of Ice and Fire” with Jon being Ice and Daenerys being Fire, Jorah seemed to give his approval for Jon and Daenerys to be together when he returned Longclaw to Jon, Davos and Tyrion have already noted that the two have feelings for each other. I look forward to seeing the two’s relationship developed over the remaining seven episodes.

mv5bmtgwmzkxmdywof5bml5banbnxkftztgwmdm5mtkymzi-_v1_sx1777_cr001777999_al_

Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Jon (Kit Harington) realise their feelings for each other. Copyright: HBO

Beyond the Wall saw the return of Alan Taylor to the director’s chair of Game of Thrones. The director, who directed six episodes in the show’s first two seasons, moved onto the world of Hollywood blockbusters, directing Thor: The Dark World and Terminator: Genisys. Taylor seemed to bring some of that Hollywood sensibility back with him as Beyond the Wall was a gorgeous episode, filled with wonderful shots and amazing camerawork. Taylor’s expertise with CGI-filled blockbusters likely gave this episode the cinematic feel it needed. Beyond the Wall felt big, it was epic, it was exciting and it was thrilling. Hopefully Taylor returns for the show’s final season.

mv5bmjm4odk5nti4mf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmtu5mtkymzi-_v1_sx1777_cr001777999_al_

Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) prepares to fight for the Dawn. Copyright: HBO.

Being almost movie-length at 71 minutes, Beyond the Wall emerged as another fantastic entry in what is shaping up to be Thrones’s strongest season yet. Big character developments, massive plot developments, thrilling and terrifying action sequences all made this episode fantastic viewing. If Beyond the Wall teases what’s in store for when the White Walkers finally make it past the Wall, then that moment can’t come soon enough.

10/10

Game of Thrones S07E05 “Eastwatch” Review

mv5bnzrjzwq1ndgtnje5zi00ngfjltlkm2itmgqyy2mzmjqzngi1xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjc5mjg0nju-_v1_sy1000_cr0015021000_al_

Daenerys (Emila Clarke) and Jon (Kit Harington) grow closer. Copyright: HBO. 

Things are really beginning to heat up in Westeros now. With multiple character reunions, several plot advancements, a major plot reveal and the teasing of a major confrontation on the way, there’s a lot to unravel here.

 

This episode saw multiple character reunions; with Jaime and Tyrion being the major one. The last time Jaime and Tyrion saw each other was in the Season 4 finale The Children; just before Tyrion murdered Tywin Lannister. That’s a whole 25 episodes ago, believe it or not. Tyrion attempted to explain to Jaime exactly why he killed Tywin. Tyrion and Jaime didn’t exactly work through all of their issues in this scene however, despite Tyrion’s pleadings that Tywin always wanted Tyrion dead because of who he was and not what he did. Hopefully Jaime and Tyrion get another scene together this season were they can fully work through all their issues (perhaps during the planned meeting between Jon, Daenerys and Cersei). Peter Dinklage and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau gave wonderful performances during this scene, with Dinklage in particular being the standout; reminding us just why he’s a fan-favourite character (Tyrion has been a very passive character since Season 4).

Daenerys was reunited with Jorah, but sadly the episode didn’t find time to linger on this reunion too much. A nice touch was Daenerys showing how much she trusts Jorah’s word that he’s been cured of Greyscale by hugging him. Hopefully the two get more chance to interact soon.

And the third and final reunion this episode was between Davos and Gendry; Robert Baratheon’s bastard son who hasn’t been seen since Season 3 Episode 10 Mhysa. Gendry’s return felt a little rushed however, after a small joke about Davos thinking he was “Still rowing”. Perhaps Gendry should have returned in Season 6, being brought in to join Jon’s army, which would have allowed Gendry’s return to be a little less rushed and giving us time for Jon and Gendry to get to know each other. At the moment it feels like the two have become instant best friends. Not to say the scenes with Gendry weren’t good; it just feels a little rushed to bring him back into the fray now.

mv5bntgyzjqxotqtmmq2zs00zwq2ltgyytktzmjkndqwzdkzyji5xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjk3ntuyotc-_v1_sy1000_cr0014271000_al_

Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) reunite. Copyright: HBO

Eastwatch saw a major plot reveal however with Gilly discovering a hidden record revealing Rhaegar, Jon’s father, secretly had his marriage to Elia Martell annulled and married a “woman in Dorne”, who could be no one other than Lyanna Stark, Jon’s mother. This reveal was subtly done, but no doubt paves the way for Sam to realise what it means later. For this reveal is perhaps the biggest reveal since the revelation that Jon’s parents were not Ned Stark and a woman called “Wylla”. The reveal Rhaegar and Lyanna were married means one thing; Jon Snow is not a bastard and is the true heir to the throne (with Jon’s claim as Rhaegar’s son overtaking Daenerys’s claim as Rhaegar’s sister). Exactly when Jon will learn his true identity is unknown, but it’s likely going to cause some friction in his burgeoning relationship with Daenerys. Especially with the whole incest thing.

Up in Winterfell, Littlefinger is clearly trying to play Arya and Sansa off each other. Secretly meeting with several Lords, knowing Arya is following him, it was quite clear Littlefinger wants to build a rift between the two sisters. As Arya is already distrustful of Sansa, believing Sansa means to take Jon’s throne out from under him, this wasn’t exactly hard to do. Allowing Arya to find the letter from Sansa imploring Robb to bend the knee to Joffrey was also another stage of this plan. Could this lay the seeds of doubt in Arya’s mind that Sansa has the North’s best interests in mind? Will Sansa’s defence that the letter was written under duress (Cersei bullied Sansa into writing the letter, using Ned’s life as leverage) be enough to convince Arya? Why doesn’t Bran, who apparently sees all, warn his sisters that Littlefinger is trying to turn them against each other? Regardless of what occurs, it’s excellent to see Littlefinger actually scheming again and being the slimy scoundrel we all know him to be.

Eastwatch also had the next phase of the plot kick into gear; with Daenerys and Jon both agreeing to abandon the war with Cersei and focus on the White Walker threat with their goal now being to convince Cersei of the threat. This plan involves Jon attempting to capture a Wight to use as proof at a parlay with Cersei. This required Jon assembling a team to undertake an impossible mission of which there was very little chance of survival. Hmm… Wight One: A Game of Thrones Story and Suicide Squad parodies incoming. The White Walkers have been largely off-screen this season so far, and it looks like next episode will see things truly kick off up north. Considering the Walkers have been all over this season’s marketing, it’s about time they showed up.

mv5bztuxmmi5ntatnwfkyi00ytqzlthiotmtzgi1nmrmzwu3ndmwxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynzu2nduwnw-_v1_sx1777_cr001777999_al_

Jorah (Iain Glen) bids farewell to Daenerys. Copyright: HBO. 

Eastwatch was filled with great moments and acting. As well as the before mentioned moments, there were some wonderful character building moments as well. Cersei revealing to Jaime that she’s pregnant and she’s aware of his secret meeting with Tyrion was a great scene. Lena Heady managed to show both the softer side of Cersei and the colder, scheming side that we all know and love all in one scene. I can’t help but feel though that Cersei is using her pregnancy as a weapon to try and keep Jaime on her side. And it’s always possible this could backfire majorly on her; with Cersei not keeping it a secret she’s sleeping with Jaime and now being pregnant, it would confirm the rumours among the people (and what we know to be the truth) that Joffrey, Tommen and Myrcella were Jaime’s bastards and not Robert Baratheon’s trueborn children. How will the people of King’s Landing react upon learning that their last two kings were illegitimate and their Queen is pregnant with her brother’s bastard? I doubt they’ll take it well.

Another great moment came from Jon and Daenerys. Jon, showing no fear, slowly approached Drogon and Drogon, sensing something in Jon (perhaps his parentage) allowed Jon to pet him. This sparked something in Daenerys, as her attitude to Jon changes after this moment. Perhaps Daenerys has become to develop feelings for Jon? Maybe she on some level senses their bond and mistakes this familial bond for romantic feelings? Or perhaps she has actually fallen in love with him? Either way, Daenerys is clearly having feelings for him as she seemed desperate to keep Jon at her side and not allow him to go on his dangerous mission. Jon also seemed to have some feelings for Daenerys, with their farewell having a tinge of awkwardness about it, like there was something the two of them both wanted to say but found themselves unable to. It’s telling that Daenerys seemed more torn up about Jon going on the suicide mission than Jorah, her oldest friend and the closest thing to a father she has. Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke have natural chemistry and the two are a joy to see together on screen, so whatever direction their relationship takes I am eager to see.

However, after Daenerys’s brutal killing of Randall and Dickon Tarly, it could seem that Daenerys is set on a bloodthirsty path. With Tyrion and Varys worried that she won’t listen to reason, could it fall on Jon to level out Daenerys’s more strict tactics for conquering Westeros?

mv5bodgxyza3nzgtyjm5zi00ytk4ltk1ztgtndjhogjmmmiyzmvjxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjk3ntuyotc-_v1_

Jon, Jorah, Tormund (Kristofer Hivju), Sandor (Rory McCann), Gendry (Joe Dempsie), Beric (Richard Dormer) and Thoros (Paul Kaye) venture beyond the Wall. Copyright: HBO 

Eastwatch was another fine entry in what is shaping up to be the show’s strongest season yet. Significant plot advancements, the return of beloved characters, long awaited reunions, the teasing of a major White Walker conflict and the teases of a romance between the show’s two leads all made Eastwatch fantastic television. The long wait for the next episode begins for, as the marketing for next week’s episode stresses, Winter is finally here…

8/10

Game of Thrones S07E04 “The Spoils of War” Review

mv5bodblzmvmy2itn2uxyy00ztjhlthlnwetnta3yzewzdbhmza4xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjk3ntuyotc-_v1_The Spoils of War saw perhaps the most significant advancements in Game of Thrones yet. That may be a common saying going forward. This episode saw not just Jon and Daenerys’s relationship begin to grow, it also saw the reunion of the three surviving trueborn Stark children and the first major confrontation between Jaime and Daenerys; and our first proper battle sequence of the Season. Despite its relatively short running time compared to other episodes, Spoils of War was perhaps the best episode of the Season so far giving us time to check in with every plot line; bar Sam, the Hound, the Wall and the White Walkers. So much happened in this episode that it’s hard to condense it all into one review. The first confrontation between Jaime and Daenerys (and likely not to be the last) was fantastic to see, really hammering home that the series is coming to its end; and that there’s actually a war going on. At Winterfell, seeing the reunion of the Stark children at last was beautiful to see. Sansa, Arya and Bran have not been together since the first ever episode, so to finally see them reunited was a sense of victory in a way. They’ve gone through so much so for the family to be together again is incredibly cathartic for viewers.

Littlefinger seems to be growing more desperate to find someone to manipulate, with Sansa showing resistance to his advances and Bran clearly not being interested in politics; his parroting of Littlefinger’s saying “Chaos is a ladder” certainly seemed to put Littlefinger on edge. With Littlefinger’s uncertainty at seeing Arya; perhaps remembering her as Tywin’s cupbearer and thus knowing he helped Tywin plot the downfall of House Stark, will perhaps push him into making a move sooner rather than later. Exactly what that move will be is unknown, but it’s likely to be his last.

mv5bnge4yzcwnwitodcwmi00owuxltllnzqtzgjmmjy1mzixnjcyxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjk3ntuyotc-_v1_

The real shining star of this episode was Jerome Flynn as Bronn. With the show taking the approach of following Bronn through the battle (with occasional cutaways to Daenerys, Tyrion and Jaime), it allowed a very unique perspective on the battle. Much like Season 6’s Battle of the Bastards, following one man through a battle gives the audience a much deeper emotional connection to the stakes, with the main priority being just rooting for Bronn to survive. As Bronn had already showcased the signs any character about to be killed off would show; being in focus, getting a few endearing moments, mentions of their aspirations, that when the battle started I assumed Bronn was done for, but I was hoping he’d make it. Framing the battle around Bronn was an excellent choice, especially when Bronn showed significant character development; abandoning his gold in favour of trying to kill Drogon. Whatever he might say, Bronn is now a Lannister man through and through.

The Spoils of War also showed excellent character work for Jon and Daenerys, with the two being given significant time to bond. While the two aren’t seeing exactly eye to eye just yet, they are much closer now and it seems they are both beginning to see things from the other’s point of view. With Davos hinting that Jon may have a slight crush on Daenerys (“She has a good heart” “Yes, I’ve noticed you staring at her good heart”) and Daenerys making it clear she will not help Jon with the White Walker threat until he bends the knee but also valuing his opinion and input on what she should do, is it possible that the two could decide to unite their kingdoms through marriage, thus removing their main obstacle (Jon not wanting to surrender his Kingdom and Daenerys not wanting the North to be an independent kingdom)? Would Jon’s caution be a good match for Dany’s recklessness? And exactly how long will Bran just sit on the information that Jon is chilling with his aunt? Does the “Three-Eyed-Raven” not write letters?

mv5bmgu3yzrmmmmtywi2ys00nwy2lwjmndutmwu0mza4odhlytkxxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjk3ntuyotc-_v1_

Speaking of Bran, it was rather alarming to see how coldly he dismissed Meera’s departure. This is a far cry from the Bran we saw at the end of Season 6. How much further can Bran’s coldness go? Is he even Bran anymore? Bran’s arc has been one of the most interesting of the series and seeing Bran struggle with the amount of information uploaded into his head by the Three-Eyed-Raven has been heart-breaking to see. Where will Bran end up? Is there any of the old Bran left?

Huge props to director Matt Shakman, making his Game of Thrones debut. The Spoils of War was fantastically directed, with each scene being wonderfully shot (bar some poor editing decisions during Arya and Brienne’s fight). The battle at the end of this episode might just be one of the best battle sequence in the show’s history, overtaking the battle of Blackwater Bay in Blackwater, the battle of the Wall in Watchers on the Wall and being on par with the attack of the White Walkers in Hardhome and the battle of Winterfell in The Battle of the Bastards. Featuring fantastic CGI with Drogon, who truly looked like he’d flown out of a Hollywood movie, amazing visual effects and being absolutely thrilling; I can say without a doubt the entire sequence kept me gripped throughout. It’s one of the few times that the series has almost made me break out in a sweat with tension, with the afore-mentioned Hardhome and Battle of the Bastards being the other times. Shakman did a truly fantastic job with The Spoils of War and I eagerly anticipate seeing what he does with next week’s episode; Eastwatch. Hopefully Shakman is invited back to direct one of the six episodes for the show’s final season.

mv5bnty0mtriytutmmjhzc00yzcxlwi4zdgtntu5zdk1zjc4y2m4xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjk3ntuyotc-_v1_sy1000_cr0013331000_al_

The Spoils of War was a truly gripping and amazing piece of television. Every so often, Game of Thrones comes along with an episode that truly knocks the socks off the competition and reminds everyone why it’s the most popular television show on the planet. And The Spoils of War was one such episode. The Spoils of War was up there with the best of the show’s entire run and will certainly go on to become one of the show’s most memorable episodes. And this was merely the first of many battles to come.

10/10

Game of Thrones S07E03 “The Queen’s Justice” Review

mv5bodvhztfhnmytzwq2nc00nde5lwexzjgtmge5nzu0mzlmzmflxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjk3ntuyotc-_v1_sy1000_cr0014151000_al_Game of Thrones finally delivered the one thing fans have been anticipating for years, decades even if you started with the books: Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen finally meeting. The two have been the de-facto protagonists of the show for quite a while now and their meeting is the one thing the entire series has been building up to; the bringing together of “Ice” and “Fire” in A Song of Ice and Fire (the overall name of George RR Martin’s book series upon which the show is based). But this iconic moment was not the only draw of the episode. The Queen’s Justice delivered plenty of memorable and fantastic scenes in an outstanding episode.

But onto the main attraction itself. Jon and Daenerys’s first meeting did not go as well as some would have expected. In fact it’s hard to see how it could have gone worse. The two clashed almost immediately; but not exactly in the worst way possible. With Tyrion and Davos trying to be the voices of reason in the conversation, we saw Jon and Dany clashing not over policies or ideological differences, but over priorities. While Dany was a bit sceptical over Jon’s claims of an army of the dead, she never exactly indicated she was unwilling to help either. She had set her priorities on the enemy she knows; Cersei whereas Jon has done the same with the Night King. The two clashed over this simple thing; Jon was adamant there was no time to deal with Cersei and the Night King should be the priority while Dany was adamant that Cersei must be dealt with first and expected Jon to honour an ancient vow of fealty to the Targaryens sworn by the Starks long ago.

mv5bmtu1nzqznzywmf5bml5banbnxkftztgwodu3nzcwmji-_v1_sy1000_cr0015021000_al_

Later in the episode, Tyrion rightfully pointed out the flaws in both parties; Jon expected Dany to drop everything to go fight an enemy she had no proof existed while Dany expected to get Jon’s loyalty without offering anything immediate in return. Tyrion’s conversations with the two alone indicated he’s trying to do his best to get the two to do what everyone must do in negotiations; compromise. Neither is going to get exactly what they want so they must talk and settle on something they’re both happy with. At Tyrion’s urging, Dany allowed Jon to mine the Dragonglass on Dragonstone. As Tyrion pointed out; it’s something worthless to Dany so she doesn’t lose anything but it’s something of value to Jon and opens up a path to further compromises and deals down the line. The scene where Jon and Dany talked alone seemed to indicate that there is a spark between them and the two, likely, could become very close allies down the line if both are willing to compromise. Now could this spark be the two feeling they should trust the other, perhaps sensing on a subconscious level their connection currently unknown to them? Don’t forget Dany is Jon’s Aunt; thanks to the reveal last season that Jon Snow’s parents are Lyanna Stark (Ned Stark’s sister) and Rhaegar Targaryen (Dany’s brother).

In King’s Landing, we got perhaps one of Cersei’s most evil acts in the series to date. With Euron delivering the captive Ellaria and Tyene to her, Cersei finally enacted her revenge for Myrcella’s death in perhaps the cruellest way possible. While there is no doubt Ellaria deserves to suffer some form of justice for her murders of Myrcella, Doran and Trystane, I’d find it hard to say she exactly deserved the fate Cersei has given her; being forced to watch Tyene die of the same poison used to kill Myrcella and then to watch Tyene’s corpse slowly rot for the rest of her days. This act was beyond justice. It was evil. Pure and simple. And the fact doing this apparently made Cersei horny is even more disturbing still.

mv5byzi5ymjlngutzjcwoc00mmu0ltgxmdatnjk2zgu3zdhmmdi0xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjk3ntuyotc-_v1_

At Winterfell, Sansa seems to have settled into the role of ruling in Jon’s stead, making many reasonable decisions. Littlefinger’s slight look at Maester Wolkan upon learning Maester Luwin kept records of every letter sent to Winterfell is one to keep an eye on. If Luwin kept a record of the letter sent by Lysa Arryn to Catelyn Stark blaming the Lannister’s for Jon Arryn’s death, when Sansa knows Littlefinger manipulated Lysa into killing Jon Arryn, things wouldn’t end well for Littlefinger. Such a record would expose Littlefinger as the mastermind that started the War of Five Kings and expose how he led Ned to his death and is responsible for the chain of events that kickstarted the entire series and in turn responsible for all of Sansa’s suffering; including the deaths of almost her entire family. If such a record were to exist and be revealed, Sansa wouldn’t be too happy to say the least which would certainly scupper Littlefinger’s plans to rule the Seven Kingdoms with Sansa as his queen. Knowing such records exist, expect Littlefinger to act sooner rather than later. Perhaps a record doesn’t even exist and Littlefinger’s actions to hide his treachery will ultimately lead to it being exposed?

We also saw the reunion between Sansa and Bran, but what should have been a sweet moment quickly turned cold when Bran revealed his gift to Sansa; by telling her exact details about the night she was married to (and subsequently raped by) Ramsay. This scene managed to portray exactly how much Bran has changed over the years. His two years of isolation from human contact besides Meera and Hodor (jury’s still out on whenever the Three Eyed Raven was technically human anymore due to presumably being hundreds to thousands of years old) has certainly affected him as well as the effects of what can only be described as a “transfer” of knowledge from the Three Eyed Raven before his death last season, which now makes Bran the Three Eyed Raven (confused? Don’t worry, Sansa is too). However, you could see that Bran was at least trying to show sympathy for Sansa, even if it seems that sort of thing is beyond him now. In the scene prior, Littlefinger revealed he lives every version of events at once in order to never be surprised. That outlook is Bran’s reality; Bran has seen everything that has happened and everything that could or will happen (Bran briefly saw Cersei’s destruction of the Sept in an early episode last season). Having all that running through your head must make it incredibly difficult for one to engage with the present, so the fact Bran is even trying is commendable even if the result leaves Sansa terrified. But there is no doubt now that anything Bran tells her in the future she will believe without question, which is perhaps why it was worth scaring her in this way.

mv5byty1mtk1mjytnmzmns00mta3ltk5mtmtn2jjyjdmzguyytbixkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjk3ntuyotc-_v1_sy1000_cr0013971000_al_

We briefly saw Sam and the now healed Jorah, with Jorah setting out to find Daenerys. Sam meanwhile was praised for saving Jorah’s life and was “rewarded” by being given a bunch of scrolls and books to read and copy. But I’m willing to bet Sam will stumble upon some essential information in those dusty old tomes.

In the episode we saw the return of Mark Gatiss as Braavosi banker Tycho Nestoris, who Cersei was attempting to make a deal with. Of course Cersei went about this completely the wrong way, once again proving that even though she may think she’s Tywin, she’s really not. Cersei of course mentioned Daenerys freeing slaves as a reason why the Iron Bank of Braavos should not support her. Except the city of Braavos was founded by self-freed slaves. Oops. Critical lack of research on Cersei’s part. It’s important to note Tycho did not acknowledge that the collapse of the Slave Trade had hurt the Iron Bank, only acknowledging that the Slave Trade was in trouble. I’m willing to bet this huge mistake will come to bite Cersei in the future. Regardless, Cersei was able to negotiate two weeks to pay off the Crown’s debts in full.

mv5bm2nkmtyyyjgtmjgwmc00zge3lwizotuty2u4m2nhnjqwm2e5xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjk3ntuyotc-_v1_

This led to the two major battles of this episode; the battle of Casterly Rock and the battle of Highgarden. In a moment of tactical genius, Jaime withdrew Lannister troops from Casterly Rock, allowing it to easily fall to the Unsullied in order for the Lannister army to take Highgarden; home of the Tyrells, with ease. With the Unsullied now ambushed by Euron and the Tyrells wiped out, Daenerys has now lost all of her advantages apart from the Dothraki and her Dragons. Which might just be enough to push her to compromise with a certain King in the North…

And this all led to the episode’s best scene; the Olenna Tyrell’s final confrontation with Jaime. Olenna showcased the snark and snappiness we’ve come to know and love as well as delivering some incredibly memorable lines (“He really was a c—t” she says when talking about Joffrey). Diana Rigg has been fantastic as the character and has contributed so much to the show. While losing such a prominent character is a sacrifice of the story moving towards it’s end, it’s such a shame that Olenna has to be one of the first losses. Diana Rigg has been such a joy on screen as the character and she will be sorely missed, especially after she delivered the Game of Thrones equivalent of a mic drop.

mv5byzkymgzjymytmzm0ny00ytjjlwfintytzdfiytbmmdgxnwm0xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjk3ntuyotc-_v1_sy1000_cr0014421000_al_

The Queen’s Justice was a fantastic episode and easily the strongest episode of the season so far. With massive advancements in the story, the death of a beloved character, a long awaited reunion, an equally long awaited first meeting, along with some excellent character work and writing. While The Queen’s Justice may not have been an action heavy episode, it more than made up for it with excellent character work and story development.

9/10

Useless trivia:

With the death of Olenna Tyrell, House Tyrell is the fifth Great House to be wiped out over the course of the show; following House Martell in The Red Woman, House Bolton in Battle of the Bastards, House Baratheon in Mother’s Mercy, the Royal House of Baratheon in The Winds of Winter and House Frey in Dragonstone, although technically House Tyrell had already been wiped out in The Winds of Winter with the deaths of Mace, Margery and Loras Tyrell; since Olenna does not have any other children or grandchildren. Her death marks the end of House Tyrell.

Other great houses in danger of extinction are; House Lannister (Cersei, Jaime, Tyrion, unknown Lannister cousins), House Greyjoy (Euron, Yara, Theon), House Arryn (Robyn), House Stark (Sansa, Bran, Arya, Benjen) and House Targaryen (Daenerys, Jon).

The title of this episode, The Queen’s Justice, can refer to both Cersei’s revenge on Ellaria and on Olenna, often nicknamed “The Queen of Thorns”, taunting Jaime that she killed Joffrey and asking him to deliver that message to Cersei with her dying breath.

Game of Thrones S07E02 “Stormborn” Review

mv5bmtu0zwm2mjmtmjlmnc00mwuzlwjinmitytkzodbhnwvlymqyxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjk3ntuyotc-_v1_sy1000_cr0015021000_al_With only 12 episodes of the show left, it was down to Stormborn to set the wheels in motion for the final chapter of the story. And boy did it do that.

Daenerys is quickly moving forward with her conquest of Westeros. After confronting Varys’s treacheries against previous rulers in one of the episode’s most powerful moments, Daenerys was alerted that she had a visitor. This visitor turned out to be Melisandre. This was a huge moment for the show, as not only was this the first official convergence between the “Ice” and “Fire” storylines (or the “Jon” and “Daenerys” storylines in simpler terms), but it also provided a hint at things to come; with Melisandre hinting that Daenerys might be the prophesised “Prince who was Promised” that will save Westeros from the White Walkers (with “Prince” being a gender neutral term according to Missandei). Melisandre however did hint there might be more to it than that, telling Daenerys she “has a part to play, as does another” which might be a nod to the long running fan theory that Daenerys and Jon Snow together are the “Prince who was Promised”. This scene was an excellent way to start the episode, with Emilia Clarke, Conleth Hill and Carice Van Houten all delivering great performances as well as introducing Daenerys to the wider arc of the White Walkers. It also saw Daenerys, with Tyrion and Melisandre’s urging, contacting Jon Snow promising the two meeting very soon.

Later in the episode, Tyrion revealed the strategy for Daenerys’s conquest of Westeros. Rightly predicting that Cersei would use the fear of Dany’s army of foreigners to unite the Lords of Westeros, Tyrion announced that only the Westeros armies allied with Dany would lay siege to King’s Landing so the Lords of Westeros would see it’s not just foreign invaders they’re fighting while Daenerys’s army of Unsullied would take Casterly Rock; the Lannister’s ancestral home and the seat of their power. An excellent plan, in theory. But what made this scene stand out was what happened after, with Daenerys having a small scene with Olenna Tyrell. Olenna warned Daenerys not to rely on Tyrion’s advice all the time and that she might be better suited ignoring him and following her own ideas. Olenna has always been one of the show’s best characters so it was wonderful to see two of the most powerful women in the show finally interact.

And finally we saw Grey Worm and Missandei consummate their relationship before Grey Worm heads out to attack Casterly Rock. The interaction between the two was sweet, as the relationship has always been rather cute. Grey Worm’s comments about fear however make me worried. Is it possible Grey Worm will die during the assault on Casterly Rock?

mv5bzjliownlnmitnjmzos00zjbjlwjlzjgtnwfmzwnhmmjly2i5xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjk3ntuyotc-_v1_sy1000_cr0014111000_al_

At Winterfell, things began to heat up. Well not literally but you get the idea. Jon received Daenerys’s summons, and upon learning Tyrion was her Hand was tempted to accept, hoping Tyrion could help convince Daenerys to join them. And upon receiving Sam’s letter about the Dragonglass mine on Dragonstone, Jon was even more determined to go. However, this seemed to have cost him some support among the Northern Lords, many of whom argued Daenerys’s summons could be a trap and that the North needs the King of the North IN the North. Jon however was adamant that they need allies to fight the White Walkers. They need Dany’s army, her dragons and the Dragonglass. Jon managed to win some support back by leaving Sansa in charge. I can’t help but wonder though if Jon might be risking dividing the North in his attempts to unite Westeros.

We also saw Jon and Littlefinger speak in the Winterfell crypts. Even though it appeared Littlefinger came off the worse here, I can’t help but feel that Jon just proved to Littlefinger that he’s not someone Littlefinger can control. And as has been proven in the past, this is not a good position to be in. With Jon gone, it’s possible Littlefinger could work his way back into Sansa’s head and manipulate her into seizing control and usurping Jon while he’s away. But perhaps Sansa has grown smarter than that? Either way, the ice is melting under Littlefinger’s feet and he’s sure to make one last desperate bid for power sooner rather than later.

Elsewhere in the North we saw Arya reunited with Hot Pie, her old friend and upon learning that Jon is King in the North, she abandoned her quest to kill Cersei and headed back North. And here we got perhaps the most powerful scene of the episode. Arya was reunited with her Direwolf; Nymeria. In the years since the events of Season 1 where Arya forced Nymeria to run away out of fear she would be killed by Cersei, Nymeria has become the leader of a great wolf pack. As Arya pleads for Nymeria to come home with her, Nymeria simply turns away. Arya smiles and says “No. That’s not you.” Cementing that both she and Nymeria are not the same girl and wolf who left Winterfell. Just as Arya is trying to find her new place in the world, Nymeria has found hers. They have both changed and will not just adapt back to normal life; perhaps indicating a happy ending for Arya, at least ones fans expect anyway, probably isn’t on the cards.

mv5bzdgwzda0yzatmgywyi00zje3ltgxzjetn2y1mzyznzm2mzq1xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtexndq2mti-_v1_sy1000_cr0015021000_al_

At the Citadel, we were very brief. Archmaester Ebrose is seen examining Jorah’s fast spreading greyscale. Ebrose remarks there is nothing more that can be done for Jorah and he will soon lose his mind to madness. He gives Jorah one day to do as he pleases before he will be sent to Valyria to live out his days with the Stone Men, heavily implying Jorah should kill himself. Ebrose remains insistent Jorah cannot be treated despite Sam being desperate to try. This leads Sam to try a highly experimental, and dangerous, treatment on Jorah in secret out of respect for Jorah’s father; Jeor Mormont, former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. This “treatment” was perhaps the most disgusting scene Game of Thrones has done in a long while. It was incredibly difficult to watch. I applaud the show for making me feel so squeamish while watching this scene, especially the cutaway to someone eating; tricking us that the knife cutting into the food was actually the operation on Jorah.

mv5bndi4mwu3zdytmjmwni00mtnmlthkodutodqxyte3nzm2owq3xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtexndq2mti-_v1_sy1000_cr0015021000_al_

A brief check in at King’s Landing saw Cersei appeal to Tyrell bannermen that Daenerys’s army poses a terrible threat to all of Westeros and that their true duty is to the throne; not Olenna Tyrell. Later, Jaime appeals to Randall Tarly (Sam’s father) and Dickon Tarly (with Merlin actor Tom Hopper replacing Freddie Stroma who played the character in Season 6). We also saw Qyburn reveal his latest creation to Cersei; an anti-Dragon ballista that fires spears powerful enough to pierce a Dragon’s bone (someone’s been watching The Hobbit). With Tyrell bannermen coming to her side and the Dragon ballista, the game slowly tips in Cersei’s favour. Will one of Daenerys’s dragons meet its death at the hands of Cersei’s ballista later this season?

mv5bztkwmje4ndqtzgfjmy00mwniltg2otqtnzu4m2u3ndzhndizxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjc3mjq4mdu-_v1_

And finally, this episode concluded on the sea with Yara, Theon, Ellaria and the Sand Snakes on their way to Dorne to collect the Martell army and lay siege to King’s Landing. With some fun character moments here; including Obara and Nymeria (not that one) making fun of Tyene and Ellaria and Yara flirting with each other. This was all cut short however with a surprise attack by Euron and his fleet. What followed was a horrifically brutal battle, with Euron’s men quickly gaining the upper hand and butchering Yara’s men. Euron himself joined in on the fighting and murdered Obara and Nymeria (not that one) with their own weapons. Ellaria and Tyene were captured and after a short fight, Euron overpowered Yara. Euron taunted Theon to try and rescue Yara, but as Theon watched all around him at the bloodshed and seeing Yara’s men getting mutilated; Theon disappeared and Reek returned (note Theon’s flinch beginning to return) in a wonderful piece of acting by Alfie Allen. Gemma Whelan also managed to convey some wonderful emotion as Yara sheds a few tears, knowing what is happening to her brother, knowing it’s not his fault and knowing she can’t do anything to help him. Theon then fled, terrified and Euron left with Yara, Ellaria and Tyene as his captives and in one move utterly robbing Daenerys of a major advantage; the Ironborn fleet and her alliance with Dorne. It’s clear now that the gift Euron promised Cersei was Ellaria and Tyene; the two responsible for killing Cersei’s daughter Myrcella. I’m willing to bet Cersei will greatly enjoy the opportunity to kill, or threaten to kill, Tyene in front of her mother Ellaria.

mv5bmtzmzwi4zgetntdmyi00zgyyltgznjqtmdzkndyxzdhjnwfjxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjc3mjq4mdu-_v1_sx1777_cr001777999_al_

Stormborn was a massive improvement over Dragonstone in every way. While Dragonstone wasn’t bad by any means, it was certainly devoid of any meaningful events occurring apart from Daenerys’s arrival in Westeros. Stormborn meanwhile had many significant plot advancements and moved at a breakneck pace, exactly what I expected from a Game of Thrones season with less episodes. Stormborn had some wonderful character moments, some great action and contained several moments fans have been waiting for and also showed how the wide circle of the show is slowly closing and soon every storyline will be joined. If the rest of Season 7 is up to this quality, then we’re in for a good one.

8/10

Useless trivia: This is the second episode in a row to have a title relevant to Daenerys; with Dragonstone being the place of her birth and where she finally arrives in Westeros and Stormborn being one of her titles; Daenerys Stormborn due to her being born during a vicious storm.

Game of Thrones S07E01 “Dragonstone” Review

2cfc6ccf9d9e74f5d294219212f6be0a3226526f1bcf8768cce1716b7a87ebaab36ad191d08b09138002617e830a4f13-0“Shall we begin?”

Game of Thrones has finally returned for its penultimate season of seven episodes, but has the wait been worth it?

Like every other Season Premiere of Game of Thrones, not much of great importance happened in Dragonstone. Again, like every other opening episode of the show, Dragonstone was more concerned with reintroducing us to the characters and slowly laying the seeds for the plot lines and character arcs that will unfold over the next six episodes.

This meant that we only had time for brief check-ins for some characters; with Bran and Daenerys only getting one scene each in the 55 minute episode. Thankfully the show has begun to stop stretching itself thin, as several storylines have now merged due to the characters slowly beginning to join up again; with Jon, Sansa, Brienne and Littlefinger in Winterfell, Cersei, Jaime and Euron in King’s Landing, Sam and Jorah in Oldtown and Daenerys and Tyrion in Dragonstone. This allows the show to spend less time jumping all around Westeros and spend more time focusing on developing each group. As the season progresses and all the storylines begin to converge even more, this will only improve.

game-of-thrones-season-7-premiere-lena-headey

As for occurred in this episode, it can very easily be summed up in a few sentences. Now this isn’t a bad thing at all, it allows the audience to reintegrate themselves to Westeros and allows the writers to have a moment’s peace before the chaos begins. The “deep breath before the plunge” as it were. This episode’s slower pace also allowed it to serve the role of the “season finale” to Season 6 as well as the “introduction” to Season 7. You could easily have placed this episode at the end of Season 6 and it would not have been out of place, due to Season 6 having an unusual event filled finale when the show has, in the past, preferred slower paced episodes to end the Season. It definitely shows the writers are thinking in the long term here, while The Winds of Winter was a fantastic episode it also left some storylines ending quite abruptly, which Dragonstone quickly addresses.

Dragonstone, more than anything, was about establishing the new status quo with lots of attention being paid to the two biggest changes to the show’s status quo at the end of last season; namely Jon and Cersei being named King in the North and Queen of the Seven Kingdoms respectively. As the “game of thrones” itself draws its conclusion (for there is no doubt Season 8 will see whoever survives taking on the fast approaching White Walker menace), the game’s main players for its final stage have to be established.

We see Jon trying to adjust to his new role as king. Struggling to manage his people, Sansa, the White Walker threat and his own sense of honour, Jon is clearly feeling the pressure. With Sansa pushing for Jon to establish his authority quickly and powerfully, by punishing treason and rewarding loyalty, Jon was keener on respecting tradition and legacy, believing carrying out punishment on the children of traitors held no point when their fathers had paid for their sins with their life. Through this, the show established a rift between Jon and Sansa, one that is likely to grow as the season progresses. Kit Harington and Sophie Turner did an excellent job with these scenes; managing to showcase the loving yet distant relationship between the two siblings.

game-of-thrones-season-7-episode-1-3

We also saw the fan-favourite storyline of Tormund’s crush on Brienne continue a little more, before Tormund departed for Eastwatch-By-The-Sea, the castle on the wall where Jon fears the White Walkers will attack. This storyline has never been in full focus, but has always been a joy to see develop, especially because of Brienne’s disgust at Tormund’s courtship.

Elsewhere in the North, we saw Sandor Clegane, Thoros and Berric Dondarrion taking shelter at an abandoned cottage. Said cottage was home to a man and his daughter, whom Sandor had encountered and robbed back in Season 4. While nothing much happened here, it did leaps and bounds for the Hound’s character development, with him feeling remorseful and burying the man and his daughter. This small moment alone showed how much Sandor has developed, back in Season 4 the Hound had bluntly proclaimed “They’ll both be dead come winter” when Arya called him out on robbing them. For Sandor to know feel terribly remorseful now hammers home what last season claimed; “the Hound” is dead but Sandor Clegane lives.

This part of the episode also saw Sandor look into the flames and see a vision, a vision confirming Jon’s fears; the White Walkers are going to attack Eastwatch. This scene was incredibly chilling and continued the feel of mystery to magic in Game of Thrones, especially how sinister the magic of the Lord of Light is. It really makes me feel that, even though this god is opposed to the White Walkers, he might not be on our side.

game-of-thrones-season-7-episode-1-6

Down in King’s Landing, we saw Cersei comfortably settling into her role as queen and, to Jaime’s horror, becoming ruthless. Lena Heady has been one of the strongest performers on the show and she was no different here, showing a slightly unhinged side to Cersei indicating King’s Landing might be in for a Mad Queen. Jaime’s shock at Cersei being prepared to take such extreme lengths might just push him to take action; Jaime has already killed one mad ruler.

And finally in Oldtown, Sam was underway with his Maester training. Starting with a humorous montage showing Sam undergoing his daily chores, this part of the episode was lighter hearted than the rest, giving us a much needed reprieve from the show’s usual doom and gloom. Bolstered by a joyful performance from Jim Broadbent and the surprise that Jorah Mormont is locked up in the Citadel, presumably undergoing treatment for his greyscale affliction, ensures this storyline will be one to keep an eye on as it develops.

game-of-thrones-season-7-episode-1-7

Production wise, Game of Thrones looks as fantastic as ever. The sets, costumes and production design are all fantastic. It’s the best looking show on TV, there’s no doubt about it.

In terms of directing, Dragonstone felt a little loose. Unlike other Game of Thrones episodes, Dragonstone suffered from perhaps the editing being a little off. Instead of spreading all of a characters scenes throughout an episode, the choice was made here to group all of them together. While other episodes have done this in the past, it’s confusing to see huge swathes of time jumped in an instant; unless Cersei timed Euron’s arrival in King’s Landing just right to coincide with her conversation with Jaime.

Then we get one of the episode’s more confusing additions; namely Ed Sheeran’s cameo. While there is nothing particularly wrong with Sheeran’s cameo, he was a little distracting. Especially since the show made no attempts to disguise him as it had done with previous celebrity cameos. When it was mentioned the song Sheeran was singing was “new”, it was delivered with almost a wink to the camera. All that was missing was a little banner saying “Available on the Game of Thrones Season 7 soundtrack, out later this year”. Compared to the cameos of Sigur Ros and other popular musicians, they did not attempt to disguise this one at all.

got-sn7_firstlook_01

Overall, Dragonstone was a passable entry for the show. Being an opening episode, it couldn’t really do much and rightfully saved its “big” moments for the opening and closing of the episode. In-between was some good stuff, but due to the show’s format nothing could be really paid off. More of a refresher of the ending of Season 6 than a significant advancement of the plotlines and characters, Dragonstone serves fine as the opening to Season 7, but future episodes need to pick up the pace.

7/10