As Game of Thrones’ truncated seventh season ambles toward the finale, we got an episode that moved the plot forward, thanks to an abounding amounts of exposition. Characters returned, others were reunited, and betrayals were forming at near breakneck speed. Before we settle in to watch Jon Snow and company’s suicide mission north of the Wall, here are five quotes (and one telling moment) to keep in mind headed into this week’s episode.
“I’m not beheading them.” – Daenerys Targaryan
The episode opens with Tyrion walking through the remains of of the Lannister army carrying grain back from Highgarden, mostly turned to ash by his new queen, Daenerys. As she rounds up the few survivors, both Randyll and Dickon (*snicker*) Tarly refuse to bend the knee to her. Tyrion, who’s now seriously questioning his allegiance after walking through a scorched graveyard of his family’s soldiers, begs both sides to reconsider, even tossing out options like imprisonment or a lifetime serving at the Night’s Watch.
Still, the Tarly’s won’t yield, and though Tyrion assumes they’ll be beheaded (as was the style at the time), Daenerys tells him that she has no intention of doing so, instead calling on Drogon to burn the two alive. While it prompts the remaining Lannister troops to bend the knee to the Mother of Dragons, it doesn’t do much for Tyrion’s uneasiness, even confiding his doubts in Varys of all people — who’s already been put on notice for his general lack of trustworthiness. With her two most trusted advisors (outside of Missandei) whispering behind her back, it could mean a dramatic turn of events for either one of them before this season comes to a close.
“Winterfell didn’t just fall into our hands. We took it.” – Sansa Stark
One of the stranger developments of this shortened season is the adversarial relationship between the newly reunited Stark sisters. Granted, they weren’t exactly fond of one another way back in season one, but after six seasons of being put through their respective ringers, you’d think there’d be some common ground. Instead, Arya spends her time doubting Sansa’s leadership while Jon’s away, despite the fact that Sansa understands her role more than anyone — including, arguably Jon himself.
This is made worse by Littlefinger’s scheming, involving a scroll from back in season two where Sansa, forced by Cersei, writes their brother Robb asking him to bend the knee to Joffrey and end his (eventually failed) rebellion. Clearly Littlefinger wants to continue shoring up his power and continue to cozy up to Sansa — both figuratively and literally — and he sees an opportunity to drive a wedge through the Start sisters and takes it. The question remains as to how effective it will be. Winterfell’s a lot smaller than King’s Landing, and Bran’s still there to see through all of his bullshit.
“Never betray me again.” – Cersei Lannister
Here’s where the abrupt pacing of this season has really started to wear thin. Davos and Tyrion sneak into King’s Landing so the latter can have a secret meeting with Jaime about the possibility of a truce with Cersei. This was already set up by the time they got there through Bronn, and honestly should’ve seemed like a much more profound moment, instead of feeling like a necessary footnote to keep the plot moving along at fast forward.
Of course, when Jaime reports this to Cersei, she knows all about it, and believes that setting up a truce could be beneficial to her eventual victory. She’s also pregnant with her and Jaime’s fourth child, which she plans on announcing to the kingdom, believing her power as queen grants her impunity. Oh, and she infers that Bronn will have to be punished for betraying her by setting up the meeting with Tyrion, while dangling a threat over Jaime’s head for his role in everything. Got all that?
“Thought you might still be rowing.” – Davos Seaworth
Okay, this one was blatant fan service, but I’ll take it. While Tyrion’s busy pleading his case to Jaime, Davos visits Fleabottom to find the long-lost Gendry. He’s back to being a blacksmith, making weapons for Lannister troops. Davos proposes he join him, and just like that, Gendry’s good to go — giant sledgehammer and all.
“What does ‘an annulment’ mean?” – Gilly
Aside from all the truncated storylines, and exposition-heavy dialogue, this moment was out-and-out frustrating. As Gilly reads what could prove to be the most vital clue that could undo every major plotline happening right now (specifically that Rhaegar Targaryan was lawfully wedded to Lyanna Stark, meaning Jon isn’t a bastard, and would be ahead of Daenerys in succession for the Iron Throne), Sam outright interrupts her because he’s unhappy with his role as Maester-in-training.
Granted, shoveling out bedpans and getting no real credit for finding the cure for greyscale would put anyone on edge, but Sam just rolls over Gilly’s potentially world-changing discovery by packing up their wagon and sneaking out of Old Town overnight. Meaning the R+L=J revelation from last year is still unknown to any living character outside of Bran. Which, speaking of…
Jon and Drogon’s tender moment
After Daenerys returns to Highgarden, he lands near Jon, who’s brooding on a cliff’s edge staring out into the ocean (because of course he is). Rather than recoiling in fear, he warms up to Drogon, even going so far as to pet his dragon snout. While Daenerys is clearly intrigued by this, it’s the closest we’ve come yet to confirming the fact that Jon is, in fact, a true-born Targaryan, meaning he could have a much more vital role in the coming events than any other character.
Instead, he’s off north of the Wall with Tormund, Jorah, The Hound, Beric, Thoros, and yes, even Gendry for their quest to obtain a live white walker to prove to Cersei they’re real, meaning they’d all put aside their differences (at least temporarily) and turn their attention to the army of the dead as they head further south.
While Game of Thrones tends to put its major events in the second-to-last episode, big things are undoubtedly in store.