You can say this about any episode in Game of Thrones’ six-year history, but boy oh boy, things are really spiraling out of control in Westeros.
We’ve been conditioned to expect first-rate political strategy from Tyrion, but it’s clear now that he’s not even a passable military strategist. The siege of King’s Landing failed spectacularly, and the Targaryen coalition left the Tyrells utterly defenseless in the Reach. Cersei, on the other hand, can move political chess pieces and command an army. We’re not even halfway through season 6, so it would be silly to think she’ll still be on the Iron Throne when this is all over, but I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know she would have quite such a meticulous and well-executed fight in her. She and Jaime are our top scorers this week, and for better or worse, it looks like the incest faction of House Lannister is on the rise. Daenerys has three dragons and way better hair, but right now, that sort of looks like all she’s got.
On that note, we kick the night off in Dragonstone. Jon is arriving from Winterfell — which he left at the end of the last episode — so I suppose we’re meant to assume that at least a month has passed in the last week. A funky timeline… I like it!
Tyrion and Jon have a moment on the beach that reminds me of every time I’ve ever seen two old frat bros hanging out: they swap a few insults and talk about Tyrion peeing off the side of the Wall, a story we’ve all heard at least 40 times. (And it wasn’t really that funny or cool the first time.) They also talk about girls they have or haven’t boned, and Tyrion informs Jon that his marriage to Sansa was “unconsummated.” Jon gets the first points of the night (+5) for some good comedic timing and this facial expression:
Daenerys, who has a lot of time on her hands, has choreographed a fun stunt in which Drogon almost knocks Jon Snow’s head off. Our girl has one move, but its charms haven’t worn off yet, if you ask me.
By the way, she made Jon and his coterie give up all their weapons and the rowboat that would ferry them back to their ship, so, uh, they’re trapped here. Unfortunately, so much of what happens on Game of Thrones is just the same five to seven things — backstabbing, front-stabbing, poisoning, smooching, horseback riding, eating bread — and the prospect of another throne-room meeting with Daenerys does not seem thrilling. We’ve seen her hold court what feels like dozens of times, and she’s spent the last several of these meetings steadily picking up allies without much guff. I guess we better hope this conversation goes poorly just to mix it up?
Luckily, Davos flubs it right out of the gate as Jon’s ill-prepared hype man. After Missandei rattles off Daenerys’ full three minutes of titles and catchphrases, Davos pipes up with “This is Jon Snow. [400-second pause.] He’s King in the North.” Minutes later, he will accidentally reveal that Jon used to be dead. Davos, button up.
Daenerys and Jon swap equally incoherent arguments about whether Jon Snow should “bend the knee,” become Warden of the North instead of King in the North (can someone explain the difference, other than I guess, taxes?), and help Dany fight Cersei. His basic line of reasoning is, “Your dad was crazy, but never mind, you’re right, that’s not relevant. I just don’t think centuries-old oaths should hold up. I mean… be cool.” Hers is, “I am the last Targaryen, Jon Snow.” Oh, interesting. I would try to avoid betting anything serious on that one.
More importantly, Daenerys doesn’t believe Jon’s White Walker story. Irritated, he informs her, “You’ll be ruling over a graveyard.” (+10) And Davos, trying to recover from messing everything up for most of the time he’s been here, jumps in like, yeah, uh huh, yeah, “It doesn’t matter whose skeleton sits on the Iron Throne!” (+10) Okay, you two. I get that Jon has a lot of Northern lords to keep happy, but it seems like he could have just bent the knee? What does it matter to anyone in Winterfell whether Daenerys, who is hundreds of miles away, still trying to take control of even one of her kingdoms, wants to call herself Jon Snow’s supervisor? Would Jon even have to tell them? Daenerys would probably have to listen a lot more closely to the White Walker spiel if she considered herself responsible for the Northmen’s safety, and it’s not like Jon even has an army with him that she can demand he ship off to King’s Landing. I think we all know what’s really going on here, and it’s that Jon Snow is a little bit of a brat.
Somewhere in all this, Varys and Melisandre have a weird conversation about nothing. It’s notable only because Mel says that both she and Varys will die at some point, in the country they’re in. Yeah… me, too. Moving on!
Poor Theon gets hauled out of the ocean by an unnamed Ironborn sailor. The guy has been floating around for so long, he’s basically a huge, incredibly pale prune. He just sort of lies there, like a prune, and we cut to King’s Landing.
In what is apparently the only form of community-building and shared use of public space in Westeros, everyone has gathered in the streets to throw garbage at Yara, Ellaria, and Tyene. I guess I would like a little more insight into how the news cycle in Westeros works, and whether there is some kind of old-school Wiki by which the city population found out who these women are. I guess I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they have no idea, and just like throwing trash at women.
Euron drags them into the throne room, and Jaime’s eyes almost pop out of his head when Euron throws them at Cersei’s feet and declares that he’s brought her “what no other man could give.” He turns the charm on full blast (+5), letting Cersei know that she deserves “more than a true friend,” and that “there’s only one reward” that would make him happy, wink, wink, Jamie convulsion. For good measure, he asks Jamie if he should put a finger in Cersei’s butt. Okay, enough. And yeah, in case you were wondering, this episode was written by Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss.
Finally, in the basement of the Red Keep, we get into this week’s serious points. Cersei, wearing some truly unflattering pink lip gloss, taunts a bound and gagged Ellaria Sand about Oberyn Martell’s death. Then she launches into a fantastic, classic Cersei monologue that veers from vulnerable (“She was mine and you took her from me.”) to psychopathic (“You will live to watch your daughter rot.” +10) before laying a big fat “queen’s justice” smooch on Tyene. The lip gloss, which I had been mentally mocking like a 13-year-old mean girl, was actually Glossier-brand poison. The joke, friends, is on me. And Glossier.
But I don’t really get how this mouth poison works! Cersei had the gloss on for quite a while before she wiped it off and downed the antidote, but it’s so powerful that it can kill Tyene without her even actually ingesting any? Or did she lick it off her own lips?
We don’t see Tyene bite the dust on-screen, but I can’t imagine Benioff and Weiss suddenly deciding she’s worth the narrative investment to have her wriggle out of this. +25 to Qyburn for reverse-engineering this poison from Myrcella’s corpse, and +25 to Cersei for delivering it. Ellaria will supposedly be kept alive in this cell with her dead child’s body… forever? That is bleak, but we don’t have time to dwell on it.
Please bear with me while I do something gross.
I have no choice but to award Cersei a whole slew of points for walking out of her death basement feeling, let’s just say, “good.” And by “good” I mean “motivated” to give her brother a blowjob. If this is how you feel after you murder a teenager, I think maybe you should consider some professional guidance. But +25 each to Jaime and Cersei for sex with a blood relative, +15 to Jaime for a butt close-up, +25 to Cersei for head-to-toe nudity, and another +5 each for post-coital red wine. The Lannisters are winning the war, and they’re also winning the Game of Game of Thrones. As a nice bookend to this King’s Landing trip, Cersei convinces a representative from the Iron Bank to back her over Daenerys, who she paints as a scary “revolutionary” and slave-trade disruptor. Also, I learned the word “profligacy” during this scene. Who says this show is all spectacle and no substance?
Speaking of spectacle: back at Dragonstone, Jon is having some quiet reflection time before giving out the final rose in the dramatic season finale of The Bachelor.
Tyrion gets a sweet +5 for calling him out on this, saying, “You look a lot better brooding than I do.”
And here we get a little breakdown of Jon’s White Walker messaging problem. “People’s minds aren’t made for problems that large,” Tyrion tells him, suggesting that maybe it’s not so bright to wander around trying to convince everyone that they’re all going to die. I’m tired of hearing vague references to climate science presentation, but this has a more interesting dynamic than I initially thought, and Tyrion has to hold Jon’s hand through the logic of the conversation at every turn, eventually pretty much calling him an idiot for forgetting to ask about the dragonglass mine, his sole purpose in coming to Dragonstone.
Tyrion then sprints on over to Daenerys to ask for mining privileges for Jon, and says some vague Pinterest quote that makes Dany punch back, “Are you trying to present your own statements as ancient wisdom?” Wow, +5 to Daenerys. When was the last time you told a joke, Khaleesi? I’m impressed, considering all of your plans are going 100 percent wrong.
Then she’s like “Hmm, wait. What about that resurrection thing that guy said by accident earlier?” But she doesn’t have a ton of time to think about it, because she has to film the B-roll for her Bachelorette season finale.
In Winterfell, Sansa is running things into the ground. Just kidding. She’s doing an amazing job and everyone loves it. She lays out some agricultural planning, gives cool advice about winter outerwear, and racks up points for hitting Littlefinger with yet another burn (+10, “The woman who murdered my mother, father, and brother is dangerous? Thank you for your wise counsel.”) It’s great, and to celebrate, Littlefinger does a whole mess of cocaine, apparently.
Without warning, he launches into the most useless speech I have ever heard in my life, telling Sansa, “Fight every battle, everywhere, always in your mind. Everyone is your enemy. Everyone is your friend. Every possible series of events is happening all at once.” Dude! I get that you took a special 5-credit college seminar on close-reading The Prince or whatever, but I need you to relax.
Giving Sansa a brief reprieve from heinous men talking at her, Bran suddenly arrives. Sansa is understandably moved by the sight of her long-lost little brother, and throws herself into his lap for an aggressive and fully felt hug. He responds like this:
And just like that, Sansa’s Heinous Men Reprieve is over. It was less than 90 seconds long. Sitting in the Godswood, Bran tries to explain his new role as the Three-Eyed Raven, telling Sansa, “I can see everything that’s ever happened to everyone,” and then proving it by recounting her wedding to a sadistic rapist. “It was so beautiful that night,” he informs her. “Snow falling, just like now. And you were so beautiful, in your white wedding dress.” Sansa doesn’t have a lot of options here other than to make a face that, loosely interpreted, says, “Would it be possible for The Verge’s Kaitlyn Tiffany to deduct 5,000 fantasy league points from Bran for being a huge dick?” The truth is, I can’t. As we’re learning in Westeros, many of the rules aren’t so fun. Sansa, please go back to talking about grain stores. Also, I love you.
At the Citadel, Archmaester Marywn is impressed that Sam healed Jorah, but Sam also gets in trouble a little bit for breaking the rules. Yes, yes, we know. He’s very smart, but he’s constantly almost goofing everything up. My only question about this scene is, where the hell is Gilly? Other than in this Belle & Sebastian video I found:
Finally, we see the Unsullied’s invasion of Casterly Rock play out twice, narrated by Tyrion. The first time: it fails and everyone dies, including Missandei’s boo thing, dear god. The second time: Tyrion reminds everyone that he built Casterly Rock’s sewage system and knows a secret way in. Great! +60 each to Grey Worm and the Unsullied for sacking the city, and another +50 to Grey Worm for redshirt kills. This rare Team Targaryen win is thrilling for a few moments, until Grey Worm realizes that most of the Lannister army is not even there. Channeling Christian Bale circa 2008, he picks up a random dude by the shirt collar and bellows, “WHERE ARE THEY?”
Well, if he means Bronn, the Tarly family, Jaime, and like 10,000 dudes in fancy red-and-gold outfits, they’re in The Reach, having a very easy time of sacking it. As Jaime is in charge, he gets +60 for taking the seat of House Tyrell, and if you’re playing with special teams, the Royal Army will rake in +60 as well.
There’s no real battle sequence here, because the main event is Jaime’s final showdown with Olenna Tyrell. Knowing Jaime is there to kill her, she puts on her most chic mourning attire and pads out the final minutes of her life with devastating burns. Jaime explains his military strategy, saying he stole it from Robb Stark and loves to learn from his failures. “You must be very wise by now,” she notes for a +10. Already knowing the answer, she asks Jaime to recite the name of the sword he inherited from Joffrey (it’s “Widow’s Wail”) just so she can respond, “He really was a cunt, wasn’t he?” (+5). After knocking back the poisoned wine Jaime offers her (+5 Olenna, +25 Jaime), she delivers the only parting shot befitting the Queen of Thorns: a steely eyed brag about murdering Joffrey back in season 4. “Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me.” (+50)
Say whatever you want about how often Benioff and Weiss talked about buttholes and twats and cunts in this episode (it was a lot), but they wrote a great final scene for the Queen of Thorns. I don’t know what we’re going to do without her, and I certainly don’t know what Daenerys and Tyrion are going to do without their last remaining ally. But I’m glad for the small mercy of having her be killed by the type of moody, hot narcissist who will listen to any monologue, so long as it’s about him, his sex life, and his personal failings. God bless Jaime Lannister for being such a glutton for verbal punishment.
And bless you if — like The Verge’s current fantasy league leader — you kept dead players on your roster for a whole week. That was dumb, but it’s okay. You can make some trades from the Free Agents team when you have a moment, and you can do so under Settings on Fantasizr. It is not a sound investment to wait for your fallen to join the army of the dead.
The Verge Fantasy League Standings
1. Michael Zelenko, 275 points
Top scorer: N/A
Special team: The Royal Army, 60
Trades: Michael kept Obara Sand this week even though she’s dead.
2. Andy Hawkins, 245 points
Top scorer: Jon Snow, 15
Special team: The Unsullied, 60
3. T.C. Sottek, 225 points
Top scorer: Grey Worm, 110
Special team: Wildlings, 0
Trades: T.C. traded the departed Nymeria Sand for Ed Sheeran.
4. Kwame Opam, 175 points
Top scorer: Olenna Tyrell, 70
Special team: The Dothraki, 0
Trades: Both Tyene Sand and Olenna Tyrell died this week, but I don’t know if Kwame will remember to trade them because he doesn’t work at The Verge anymore.
5. Tasha Robinson, 170 points
Top scorer: Jaime Lannister, 130
Special team: The White Walkers, 0
6. Chaim Gartenberg, 155 points
Top scorer: Cersei Lannister, 115
Special team: The Wights, 0
7. Liz Lopatto, 125 points
Top scorer: Sansa Stark / Davos Seaworth, 10
Special team: The Lord of Light, 0
8. Sarah Smithers, 70 points
Top scorer: N/A
Special team: Dragons, 0
9. Loren Grush, 65 points
Top scorer: Tyrion Lannister, 5
Special team: Brotherhood without Banners, 0
10. Bryan Bishop, 25 points
Top scorer: N/A
Special team: The Night’s Watch, 0