I expected a huge, Hardhome like apocalyptic battle when I saw the title of this episode. Sadly, that didn’t happen, but what we did get was a somewhat quieter episode with some notable improvements in dialogue, even if we do still have reckless teleporting and nods to rowing memes.
Let’s start from there, the return of Gendry, and more great acting from Liam Cunningham as Davos brought him back into the fold. Davos is a character you cannot help but root for no matter what he’s doing, and we finally got a bit of his smuggling talents which I appreciated. I also appreciate there not being any loose ends (or at least that will be the case when Edmure starts ruling the Riverlands again), and Gendry meeting with Jon, as well as the Brotherhood duo, added to this episode a bunch of character interactions between characters that have met each other for the first time or for the first time in a long time. The connections between the group that is going north of the Wall, probably for many of them on a suicide mission, are so intriguing to pick out. Jorah, like when he met Sam, is carrying the shadow of his father with him in his interactions with Jon. Gendry brings the shadow of his father, that’s contrasted with Jon’s relationship with Eddard, who we all still think is his father. Thoros and Beric bring the Lord of Light who may or may not have provided the power to raise Jon from the dead, and the Hound brings years of resentment to everything that the factions that the rest of these men hail from stand for. It’ll be a fun ride next episode, which, if I hear correctly, is already out there making waves.
The quieter nature of this episode, with discussions like Varys and Tyrion talking on Daenerys’ conduct in Dragonstone’s throne room, made it feel a little bit more like the in depth Game Of Thrones of the earlier series, when GRRM’s writing still directed much of the conversation. Not quite, but that’s a criticism of this series that I don’t think applied to that scene. Nor did it apply to the scene with the maesters refusing to believe Sam’s assertions without proof, that is exactly what you should expect them to do, even as they read a raven that made it all the way from Winterfell to Oldtown in the blink of an eye (yes, I know there’s fast travel and different timelines but it doesn’t feel that way a lot of the time)
I had to groan/act incredibly frustrated at Sam not listening to Gilly as she basically confirmed what we’ve been waiting to hear, but then that made it a good show moment because that’s what I’ll remember about the episode, hearing Rhaegar’s name come up, get excited and then have to contain it as Sam gets mad.
The Cersei/Jaime dynamic continues to ramp up. I’m sure that has to come to a head soon, especially since Cersei announced that she was pregnant, maybe Jaime isn’t the father, maybe Qyburn’s done something to her, maybe she’s gone completely insane. I do want Cersei to be dealt with as now she’s done her coup de grace of killing everyone as the High Septon, she’s not as effective now her enemies aren’t within her city. So either she needs to meet with Daenerys, team up and start intriguing at close range, or she needs to be dealt with. Speaking of intrigue, it looks like it’s finally starting again for Littlefinger, Arya may be at risk, and rifts seem like they’re starting to emerge between her and Sansa. I hope the Starks will be fine, although that seems silly to hope for.
Anyway, overall, a nice quiet episode moving into what will surely be momentous episodes for the final two.