Last nights episode of Game of Thrones, The Queens Justice, begins with a long-awaited meetingour old friends Ice and Fire, a.k.a. JonSnow and Daenerys Targaryenand ends with revenge, served cold andclever: iced zinger, if you will. We begin, once more, on the shores ofDragonstone: waves crashing, big cliff, boat dragged onshore. Why, itsJon Snow! That was fast.
The bastard of Winterfell! Tyrion says.
The dwarf of Casterly Rock! How jolly, you might be thinking. How willthese two hit it off? Well, steel yourself.
You stand in the presence of Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen,rightful heir to the Iron Throne, rightful queen of the Andals and theFirst Men, protector of the Seven Kingdoms, the Mother of Dragons, theKhaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, the Breaker of Chains,Missandei bellows. Jesus, were thinking. Why not throw in Eater ofStill-Beating Hearts and Pilot of Wingd Lizard?
This is Jon Snow, Davos Seaworth says. A pause. Hes King in theNorth.
The big meeting of Dany and Jonsecret aunt and nephew, if only theyknewquickly devolves into a standoff about bending the knee, and whosehouse once pledged fealty forever, and whose family did what to whom.(Break faith? Your father burned my grandfather alive!) In the timesince hes met me, hes refused to call me Queen, hes refused to bow,and now hes calling me a child, Dany says to Tyrion. I feel like theadvance team of Melisandre and Tyrion did a poor job of explaining JonSnows greatness to Dany, and Im not having it. Neither is Jon. Yourgrace, everyone you know will die before winter is over if we dontdefeat the enemy to the north! he says. Then he tells her about theArmy of the Dead, which flummoxes her. Once again, Davos Seaworth offershis services, Fleabottom style, in a rousing speech about how the WhiteWalkers are real and about how destiny has made both Dany and Jon intogreat leaders. He has no birthrighthes a damn bastard! All those hardsons of bitches chose him as their leader because they believe in him.He rattles off accomplishments including taking a knife in the heartfor his people. Jon looks at him in warning. Thatll do, Seaworth.
But this moment is ruined by yet more talk of knee-bending. It takes notime to bend the knee! Tyrion wails. Thankfully, Varys shuffles in,whispering about terrible news. Dany pretends to remember diplomacy andsends them off to dinner and a bath. This move is known as the cherry ontop of a mud pie.
Am I your prisoner? Jon Snow says.
Not yet, she says. These two!
As Varys gives Dany the bad news about the Greyjoy-on-Greyjoy frigateaction, we see good old Theon, Reeked out and wide-eyed, being hauledout of the sea, to the sound of grunting. Meanwhile, in Kings Landing,crowds in the streets cheer for Euron Greyjoy, on horseback, and jeerfor his prisoners: Yara, glum and roughed up and walking behind him on aleash, alongside Ellaria Sand, who spits in anger. Onlookers are peltinggarbage. Boy, oh boy, do the people of Westeros love pelting garbage atmiserable women who trudge through the streets! Euron is grinning fromear to ear. He makes kissy faces, beams. I have to be honest, this ismaking me hard, he says. When they get to the Iron Throne zone, he issmiling still, and spreading his arms like Tevye dancing at Tzeitelswedding.
What was Eurons wonderful promised gift for Cersei? If you guessedvengeance, good on you. Ellaria Sand, who, as you might recall, gaveCersei and Jaimes daughter Myrcella the kiss of death a while backyouknow, kissing a nice teen-age girl on the lips, but you have secretlypoisoned lipsis brought into the throne room with one of her owndaughters. Euron says, I bring you what no other man could give:justice. Cersei has a look on her face that seems to say, I like wherethis is going, but convince me. Ellaria spits again, for good measure.Cersei names Euron a true friend of the crown and says, You shallhave what your heart desiresJaime looks upwhen the war is won. Oh,snap! Euron has a look on his face like, What? If only he could show hera replay of last weeks fighting sequencethe viper gangplank and thecorpses swinging from the bowsprit. She would definitely want to sleepwith him then.
Cersei says that with Euron commanding their navy and Jaimecommanding their army, the Lannister forces will be terrific, andeveryone claps and cheers; Army and Navy, who hate each other, quietlyexchange barbs, and Navy tries to taunt Army sexually. Does she like itgentle or rough? Euron says. A finger in the bum? Jaimes eyes widen.Its been nothing but challenges to his dignity lately, poor thing.
The next scene is like Cerseis version of Sansa feeding Ramsay Boltonto his dogs, or Arya feeding Frey sons to their dad. But, instead ofbeing disgustingly delicious, it feels more like watching Ramsay flaysomebody for a season or two: not fun. Cersei goes to the dungeon toreminisce to Ellaria, in front of the Mountain, a.k.a. Ser GregorClegane, about the time he crushed the skull of Ellarias lover Oberonin a duel. (Remember that awful sight and sound? How the years do goby.) Cersei says that she considered having Clegane crush Ellariasskull, too, or her daughters, cracking it open like a duck egg. Butno! Cersei is a poet, so she kisses the daughter with poisona movecalled the Long Farewell, she says. (Remind me never to start a bloodfeud.) As Ellaria howls in despair, Cersei, all riled up, goes upstairs,where she finds dear Jaime messing about with goblets, sits on his lap,and kisses him. Uh, watch it with those recently poisoned lips, youpsycho!
Later, a visitor from the Iron Bank tells Cersei that the Lannistershave no money, and she reminds him that Lannisters always pay theirdebtsand reminds us that the Lannisters are the only people in Westeroswho are constantly mentioning their debts. Tyrion, meanwhile, isbrooding on an oceanside bluff as Jon Snowa man in constantbroodappears. Tyrion points out that Jon outbroods him, hands down; Jonkeeps brooding. Im a prisoner on this island, he says, mopily. Nextthing you know, hes glummed his way into getting Tyrion to ask Dany ifhe can have Dragonstones dragonglass. In the Cave Situation Room,Tyrion explains to Dany that dragonglass can be used to kill or stopWhite Walkerslook, he admits, who really knows what any of that means?He looks embarrassed, like hes asking for imaginary food for his friendSnuffleupagus. Dany scoffs. And what do you think about this Army ofthe Dead and White Walkers and Night Kings? the Mother of Dragons says,sarcastically, walking past a giant carving of a fanged dragon head.
A wise man once said you should never believe a thing just because youwant to believe it, Tyrion says.
Are you trying to present your own statements as ancient wisdom? Danysays. This may be the first joke she has ever made in her life. Atleast, I think its a joke.
In Winterfell, Sansa is thrivingmarching around barking out ordersabout shoring up the grain reserves and putting leather on breastplates.(You know, to make them cozy, for winter.) Leadership suits you,Littlefinger purrs, trailing along behind her. He gives her someadvicethe kind of thing I really should start saying to young people,to freak them out. Fight every battle, everywhere, always, in yourmind. Everyone is your enemy, everyone is your friend. Every possibleseries of events is happening all at once. Suddenly, theres a visitorin the courtyard, arriving by cart. Its Bran! Sansa weeps; Brandoesnt. I guess the magical dont feel. Hello, Sansa, he says,impassive. Being the Three-Eyed Raven hasnt improved his personality.They catch up under a weirwood tree, whose agonized face seems toexpress much about the pain of life in Westeros.
I wish Jon were here, Sansa says.
I need to speak to him, Bran says. You do indeed, kid. Sansagenerously tells Bran that he, Bran, as fathers last living true-bornson, is now Lord of Winterfell, and she doesnt seem crabby about it.(Other regal types could learn something about succession-relatedpoliteness from this family.)
I can never be lord of anythingIm the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran says.Sansa looks about as wary and confused as Dany trying to understand theArmy of the Dead. They are like me in Season 2. I can see everything,Bran says. Everything thats ever happened to anyone, everything thatshappening right now. She should ask him if he knows how to fight everybattle, everywhere, always, in your mind.
At the Citadel, we get an uncharacteristically unrepulsive scene: JorahMormont, shorn of his greyscale, is being examined by Archmaester JimBroadbent. Sam Tarlys D.I.Y. medical experiments have provedsuccessful. One could almost be forgiven for thinking that the entireupper layer of diseased skin was debrided, and the underlying regiontreated with some sort of unguent, the maester says. No, no!, Jorahtells him, wanting to protect SamIm just getting enough rest andenjoying the climate. (This is basically what Jenna Maroney said to LizLemon after getting a chemical peel and something with shark DNA.)Jorah is allowed to leave the Citadel; Sam is punished mildly, with apile of bug-infested old scrolls to preserve. For Sam Tarly at theCitadel, thats a cakewalk.
Dany, at the Dragonstone map table, wants to take her dragons to burn upEurons ships. Too dangerous, Tyrion says. They discuss Casterly Rock,the Lannisters place, and he describes how impregnable it isNo onehas ever taken the Rock, he says, as we see images of the Unsullied onthe attackand then proudly reveals how to impregnate it. Tyrion oversawits sewer construction, he reveals, and, he says, I threw in somethingfor myself: a secret passage for low pursuits, which they can now useto easily infiltrate the Rock. Call it a sewer ex machina.
However! A twist. When our hero Grey Worm walks atop the Casterly Rockramparts, stepping over legions of dead bodies, hes suspicious. Sure,theyve taken the castle and killed a ton of people. But why was it soeasy? Because, dear fellow, your enemies Army Lannister and NavyGreyjoy have won this round. Down in the harbor, Eurons navy is burningthe Unsullieds ships; Jaime, letting them have their way with CasterlyRock after emptying its larders, has gone off to take Highgarden, theTyrells place, and Jaime, as head plunderer, has to kill its ruler, thewonderful Lady Olenna.
Did we fight well? she says to him. Hes respectful to her. Thesedays, when Jaime isnt wearing an expression of wounded dignity, heswearing an expression of noble duty or dutiful resignation. Theyexchange a few jokes. I suspect that Jaime finds it refreshing to be inthe presence of a sane person, and might regret having to kill her. Howwill you do it? she asks. His sword looks like Joffreys sword, shesaysnot that he ever used it. I did unspeakable things to protect myfamily, she tells him, and never lost a nights sleep. But your sisterhas done things I was incapable of imagining, she says. Shes amonster. When Jaime preposterously responds that no one will care aboutCerseis monstrosity when people are living peacefully in the world shebuilt, Olenna knows hes a goner. You poor fool, she says. Shell bethe end of you.
Jaime describes some disgusting ways he could have killed LadyOlennaCerseis ideas, of coursebut pours her a gentlemanly vial ofpoison, into her wine.
Will there be pain? she says. No, Jaime says. I made sure of that.What a mensch.
She drinks it. Id hate to die like your son, clawing at my neck, foambillowing from my mouth, eyes blood-red, Lady Olenna says. Mustvebeen horrible for you. It was horrible enough for her, she goes onashocking scene, not at all what I intended. Shed never seen the poisonwork before, she explains, all gentility. Tell Cersei. I want her toknow it was me. Of all the generous helpings of revenge served in theSeven Kingdoms, this one, by a true gourmet, might be the mostdelicious.
Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 3 Recap: Revenge Served Hot and Cold – The New Yorker