(Photo Courtesy of IGN/HBO)
Three “television enthusiasts,” the dynamic brother-sister duo of Marci and Rusty Buehler and Zac Hirschbeck, watch Game of Thrones each Sunday night and exchange their thoughts on the show’s happenings.
Regardless of whether or not you possessed the patience to wait for episode four following the mid-week online leaks, all Game of Thrones fans were treated to another memorable installation this week. While we’ve already seen a few battles in Season 7, the confrontation between the warring Queens certainly raised the stakes for what’s to come in the weeks ahead. In doing so, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss provided us with moments that the show has been building to for the last six years.
Once again, this show continues to prove its might when it comes to depicting war. From the very first moment of recognition, which saw Jaime, Bronn, and Randyll Tarly become unsettled by the approaching battle cries of the Dothraki hordes, to the very last moment, which saw Jaime’s naivety bailed out by a timely tackle from Bronn, the battle was incredible to watch. The chaos was captured beautifully by episode director Matt Shakman (who, oddly enough, is a longtime director for one my other favorite shows “It’s Always Sunny Philadelphia), and the scene where Bronn was rushing frantically through the carnage (on his way to the dragon-fighting contraption) was particularly amazing.
From a storytelling standpoint, this battle certainly left me conflicted. In the long run, I hope Daenerys overtakes Cersei. As a result, I really enjoyed watching her ride into battle to recapture some of the momentum that was slipping away from her in recent weeks. Between seeing Daenerys perched atop Drogon, Drogon’s fearsome and powerful roars, and their subsequent destruction of the Lannister forces, that scene was a moment that the show has been building to for years. Although the dragons have certainly dispatched their mother’s enemies in prior episodes, Drogon’s fiery decimation (prior to his injury) took things, in the words of the great poet A$AP Ferg, to a new level.
With that being said, while I really wasn’t all that concerned about Sam Tarly’s dickhead father or his unfortunately-named brother, I was worried that Jaime and Bronn were going to die alongside the terrorized soldiers that they were leading home from Highgarden. Jaime, who was a real son of a bitch before losing his hand and saving Brienne from that bear a while back, has become one of the more likable characters on the show. Meanwhile, Bronn has long been a lovably crass badass warrior that manages to quench his thirst for wealth alongside some of the best characters in Westeros.
Taking all that into account, I was pretty relieved at the outcome of last night’s episode. Daenerys got her first (overwhelming) victory in Season 7, and I’m certain that Drogon will recover from his injury. On the other side, not only did Bronn ground a dragon AND save Jaime from a fiery death, but he lived to tell the tale. Likewise, despite foolishly ignoring the advice of his trusted wingman AND charging at Daenerys while to failing to account for Drogon being very much alive and capable, the Kingslayer appears to be a somewhat challenging swim away from being very much alive as well.
In the North, I, as I’m sure you both were, was happy to see another Stark reunion as Arya returned to her familial home. Even though her initial interaction with Sansa in the Crypt of Winterfell (in front of their dead father’s tomb) was a little chilly, I was happy to see the Stark sisters warm up and embrace one another. Additionally, while he remains an incredibly awkward conversationalist since becoming The Three-Eyed Raven, Bran at least seemed a little more lively when talking with both of his sisters as opposed to just one. His re-gifting of the Valyrian dagger to Arya was also a pretty telling bit of foreshadowing. Bearing in mind that Bran can see everything that has and has yet to happen, I have to think Arya will use that dagger for good (Killing Littlefinger? Fighting the White Walkers?). Time will tell what that “good” is.
Lastly, although the battle to end the episode was tough to top, I think my favorite moment this week was the sparring that occurred between Arya and Brienne. I hold an awful lot of affection for both characters, and it seemed pretty clear that a loving bond was developing between the two as they fought one another in the Winterfell courtyard. As Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson pointed out, Arya’s actions in the duel were the product of six seasons worth of storytelling. Between her training with Syrio Forel, The Hound, and Jaqen H’ghar, Arya has become a gifted fighter. Meanwhile, Brienne, who has finally made good on the promise she made to Cat Stark long ago (as pointed out by Podrick), is arguably the only pure “good guy” left in the existing cast.
Marci, while I know you have long hoped for a reunion between Arya and The Hound, I think I’m more excited about the prospect of Arya and Brienne teaming up in the episodes to come. Seeing as Arya now possesses a Valyrian dagger, and Brienne has long battled with the Valyrian sword (“The Oathkeeper”) that Jaime gifted her, I think we’re destined to see the badass lady-warriors take on the fast-approaching frozen zombie army (since Valyrian weapons can kill White Walkers). Logically, Nymeria will also return and come to their aid, and I will lose my mind in excitement.
Marci, Rusty, what did you both make of this week’s episode?
Were you similarly torn during the closing scenes, but also delighted by the events occurring in the North?
And where do this week’s happenings leave us for the final three episodes of Season 7?
Marci: Wow is right Zac! What a crazy episode – it’s almost as if with every passing week this season we are greeted with a huge event we’ve been waiting a long time for, and boy are these moments really paying off for all the years of tension and setup! Seeing Drogon in action was really impressive and definitely swung the power dynamic back onto Dany’s side. I found myself a bit conflicted as the battle raged on as well, mostly because of the absolute and complete destruction that occurred. Men turning to ash before Jamie’s eyes. Wowza. I just hope that the Mother of Dragons has the restraint to be responsible in how she continues to utilize the dragons in battle. It was promising to see her listen to Jon Snow’s advice and avoid attacking King’s Landing to limit civilian casualties. Hopefully she will continue to heed the advice of those she respects and not go overboard with the dragon force.
Speaking of dragon force, we got to see Cersei’s crazy crossbow in action. It worked like a charm, almost in an alarming way. It was weird to watch the battle scene and be rooting for the dragon to annihilate all the human soldiers and then get very upset and sad when I thought for a moment that the dragon might be fatally wounded in the rift. Hopefully he will escape with just a shoulder wound, but I’m not sure we can say the same about Jaime Lannister. Dude really stuck it out in that battle, which shows us how he’s matured into a less selfish person. The Jaime Lannister of old woulda ridden the f outta there upon hearing the Dothraki screams, and galloped his horse right back to Cersei’s waiting and open legs, but not only did Jaime stay and fight alongside his troops, he got all noble and tried to be a dragon slayer. That didn’t work out so well! He’s lucky Bronn was there to save him.
I know we ended the episode with a sinking Jaime, but I have a feeling he’s going to somehow survive long enough to be captured by Daenerys and be a pawn in this epic Game of Thrones. I’m sensing some great one-on-one scenes with him with Tyrion next week… And possibly a switch of allegiance? ONLY TIME WILL TELL!!
Speaking of siblings, I gotta say all these Stark reunions are much less satisfying than I had hoped. I guess we knew that Arya and Sansa weren’t always the best of friends, but it was a fairly cool reception for a sister you thought was dead. That being said, I feel so bad for Sansa. All of sibs are showing up and they are LITERALLY CRAZY! Arya has a list of people she wants to murder, which Sansa assumed was a joke and they both awkwardly laughed about it. And Bran… well Bran has lost his goddamn mind!! Dude be trippin’.
I also enjoyed the Arya and Brienne sparring scene. They are both well-loved characters and it will be fun to see their friendship bloom. Maybe by the end of the season, they’ll start dating, adopt a couple dogs, get a mini-van and move to Ithaca, NY! Sorry The Hound, Arya’s got a new sidekick/lover!
I’m eager to see what will unfold in the next three episodes. If this week’s battle was any indication, we are in for a crazy ride.
Rusty, what’d ya think of Drogon’s battle premiere?! Do you think Jaime will survive to see next week’s episode? And WHAT ABOUT THEON? Is he ever gonna do anything important?! Ps – no Jorah this week 😦
Rusty: Marci, I dig the May-December romance you are throwing down with Arya and Brienne. Maybe that is the spin off we are all secretly hoping for. Forget Lyanna Mormont’s spring break – I want to follow Arya and Brienne to the farmer’s market on a Saturday morning! Maybe they swing by Home Depot afterwards for an impromptu DIY project, WHO KNOWS??
Last night’s episode was excellent. The special effects and CGI were insane, and I was happy that this battle took place in some good lighting. All of the scenes in dark catacombs and caves make me feel like an old man. I can hardly figure out who is talking to who! However, last night’s cave scene between Jon and Dany was very effective. A hasty cave-drawing Powerpoint presentation went a long way for Jon Snow. The duo’s game of diplomacy seems to be inching towards a healthy alliance. However, this idea of ‘bending the knee’ is getting a little old for me. Jon, just bend the knee! A lot of hot-takes out there are also pointing out how Dany’s argument is essentially the same one Jon gave to Mance Rayder a few seasons ago. That little tidbit totally flew over my head, so thank you Internet for connecting the dots.
What did we all make of Bran’s epic ice-out of Meera? How about a little THANK YOU, Bran????!!!!! Girlfriend dragged your ass for weeks in the frozen tundra, and all you can muster is “I no longer need you”? Meera’s wonder twin with secret powers gave his life to protect you, Bran, and you’re just going to spin off in your fancy new wheelchair? Boy bye. Now poor Meera has to walk through even more snow to get to wherever her family is. Is this the last time we are going to see Meera? Big prediction: we will see Meera again, but more as a plot device to show that the White Walkers have started to invade, a la Hardhome. Poor Meera!
I’m also pretty shocked that no one of any substance died during Drogon’s assault. I was pretty sure during that tracking shot of Bronn in the thick of Drogon’s aftermath that Bronn was a goner. Bronn isn’t even walking away with that satchel of gold Jamie gave him at the beginning of the episode. Marci, I dig your prediction that Jamie will be pulled out and taken prisoner, but feel like that’s a cop out. That armor is HEAVY. Jamie also has a solid gold hand, which probably doesn’t help his swimability.
The last thing I want to talk about is who was on the bench this week: Varys, Jorah, Sam, Grey Worm, The Hound…. And yet, we still get another god damn scene with Littlefinger. I did enjoy Bran thoroughly creep Littlefinger out with his Three-Eyed Raven mind games. What do you think Littlefinger is really up to? I smell a huge betrayal brewing in the finale, ultimately resulting in Sansa’s demise. That seems like some dark, poetic symmetry – to track Littlefinger’s weird obsession with Cat and then Sansa, only to end up killing Sansa in the end? There are too many Starks in the same place now… it seems a little too easy, doesn’t it?
What do you think will happen in this season’s final three episodes? This coming Sunday’s is titled “Eastwatch”…. Do we think the Night’s King will break on through to Westeros?
Zac: Although I’d be on board with an Arya-Brienne spinoff, did you guys notice the look in Podrick’s eye as he watched Arya take his place against The Maid of Tarth? I’m pretty certain Tyrion’s former squire has the hots for the youngest Stark daughter. Also, speaking of potential love interests for Arya, did you guys know that Gendry Baratheon is set to return this season? I really had forgotten about King Robert’s bastard blacksmith, but after sailing away into the night (thanks to Ser Davos) way back in the Season 3 finale, Gendry looks poised to return to the fold in Westeros. I’ll be interested to see what he’s up to.
I think Jaime will absolutely survive his watery tumble, and I think it’s inevitable that he’ll be held as a prisoner by Daenerys. Personally, I can’t wait to see him interact with Tyrion once again. I can’t imagine it’ll initially be a warm embrace between the two brothers. While Jaime freed his brother from King’s Landing prior to his wrongful execution for Joffrey’s death, Tyrion repaid his brother’s kindness by then murdering their father. Despite that lingering family drama, I’m hopeful that Tyrion and Jaime will reconcile. After receiving an earful from Olenna Tyrell last week about how his sister-lover is a monster, and keeping the ever-popular theory that Jaime will ultimately murder Cersei in mind, perhaps a reunion with his younger brother will push him closer to re-evaluating his loyalty to his sister.
Rusty, your point about Littlefinger and too many Starks is a concerning one. Personally, I thought this week’s episode was heavily hinting at Arya taking out Lord Baelish (to the point where I openly wondered if Littlefinger was on her kill-list), but perhaps that’s purposeful and deliberate misdirection by Benioff and Weiss. Though it’s likely wishful thinking, I’d like to see all three of the recently reunited Stark children see things through to the end in Westeros.
Three other quick takeaways I’d like to offer from this week’s episode:
- I really love Ser Davos. Liam Cunningham’s character has become one of my favorites, and he makes me laugh on a weekly basis.
- Speaking of potential spinoffs, Missandei and Daenerys’ brief discussion of the former’s night of genital-less passion with Grey Worm certainly seemed to diversify their already close friendship. With all due respect to Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, I think a show centered on Missandei and Daenerys’ bond could rival Comedy Central’s Broad City.
- Lastly, are we going to discuss the “romantic” tension that existed between Daenerys and Jon Snow in that cave? I’m not imagining things, right?
As far as this coming week, I think Rusty is right on with his prediction that the White Walkers will reappear. If I’m remembering correctly, Jon sent Tormund and the wildlings to man “Eastwatch.” Unfortunately, if that is indeed the case, I think a visit from the Night’s King would certainly spell the end for the ginger-bearded badass.
Plus, we have to see The Hound again soon, right? Perhaps his fire-vision, which involved a glimpse of a White Walker invasion, will prove true…
Take us home Buehlers!
Marci: Zac, I’m glad you brought up the sexual tension that was oozing out of Jon Snow and Daenerys in that cave—for a second there I thought they were gonna SMOOCH SMOOCH it up in there, right underneath the White Walker hieroglyphics. Who said love is dead in Westeros?! I’m eager to watch their friendship continue to blossom, and hopefully we’ll get a ton more “Will they or won’t they” moments. I’m guessing we’ll have a few more close encounters where they will be interrupted by this person or that person (probably Theon, cause all he does is get in the way—what a cock block, am I right?!). One way or another I think their relationship will continue to grow stronger as the season goes on.
I’m personally hoping that Arya kills Littlefinger in the coming weeks…or perhaps Brienne will be the one to do it, whilst protecting her in one way or another.
As for next week’s episode, I agree that we’ll see some White Walker action, and I also agree that our boy Tormund might be in danger. I think it really STINKS that a d-bag like Jaime will survive his battle with unlikely odds, but our boy Tormund might bite the bullet ASAP. But I thought Tormund was gonna be a goner way back during The Battle of the Bastards, so the dude has proved himself to be quite a survivor. Here’s hopin’ he makes it through whatever goes down at Eastwatch next week!
I’m also guessing we’ll see The Hound next week, although in what capacity I’m not sure.
One last thing—if Bran knows everything that’s ever happened and everything that’s going to happen, WHY ISN’T HE WARNING ANYONE ABOUT ANYTHING?! Dude seems content to just sit by his tree and wax poetic while nursing his Three-Eyed Raven high. I wish he’d use his powers for more than merely creepin’ out everyone around him. Honestly, Meera should have carted him off to a Phish show, because he’d be havin’ the time of his life right now.
Rusty, any last thoughts on his week’s episode or what you hope to see next week? I can’t believe we only have 3 episodes left in this season. WE MUST CHERISH EVERY MOMENT.
Rusty: Ooof, it is pretty sad that we only have 3 more episodes left. Will they be ‘supersized,’ like the last two episodes of Season 6?
Marci, I think that the whole point of the Three-Eyed Raven is to not get in the middle of things. He is a conduit only when necessary, like when he gave Arya the dagger in this episode. If Bran opened his mouth and spoiled everything that’s to come, we wouldn’t have a glorious show to talk about!
Zac, I did not know that Gendry was coming back! How long do you think Gendry will stick around for? If memory serves me correctly, Melisandre took out some weird leech blood from Gendry. Did we ever find out what that was for? Will that come full circle when she checks back in next season?
I don’t have any other lingering thoughts that haven’t been discussed already. I’ll just wait patiently until Sunday night, staring at the blank TV screen until 9pm rolls around.