As always, these are my rambling nonsensical thoughts on the episode, but disclaimer, my stream lagged so i missed maybe 30 seconds to maybe a minute of the episode. Let’s begin.
Jon and Tyrion’s conversations had to be some of my favourite scenes from this episode. That shared smile between them when Jon first lands on Dragonstone and they greet each other was so pure. There is potential for a great friendship between them. They both have an understanding for each other that they don’t share with anyone else. Jon as a bastard and Tyrion as a dwarf. This was evident in earlier seasons too, but more so now that they have both found their places in the world. They respect each other, but they’re fighting for very different causes (and for different reasons) and I wonder if this fledgling friendship will become a point of contention for them later in the story.
Anyway, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t say that one of my favourite scenes had to be Tyrion and Jon’s conversation about Sansa. What I loved about this scene was although it was fleeting, it still gave us Jonsa feels (if you’re inclined to read the scene this way anyhow).
When Tyrion says, “does she miss me terribly?” Jon is very quiet and they let that silence play on long enough for it to be a significant marker in a conversation. Jon didn’t want to talk about it. It wasn’t an awkward silence; it was absolutely an annoyed, aggravated silence. And then what’s great is that Tyrion immediately went on the defensive and says that the marriage was never consummated.
It’s a strange thing to say, especially when they were so friendly earlier. Wouldn’t it be safe to assume that if Jon had any suspicions that Tyrion had hurt/touched Sansa against her will that exchange would’ve gone very differently? There was clearly no need to mention it at all, but yet Tyrion did and Jon’s response was “I didn’t ask” in a clearly annoyed tone that suggested if this topic didn’t end soon someone was going to get choked out. Either Jon really hates the thought of Sansa with another man he turned into grumpy kitten Jon or he doesn’t want to think about his sister having sex at all. But bear with me here, if it’s the latter, why have this dialogue at all? There’s no narrative reasoning for this whatsoever unless Jonsa is a real possibility in the future and we’re supposed to continue to think about Jon, Sansa and ‘sex’ in the same line of thought.
Okay, okay, admittedly my shipping goggles are on, but I still maintain the fact that it’s a weird piece of dialogue to have. If all they wanted to do was establish Sansa as a real political player, they could’ve cut that entire 2-3 lines out and just went straight into:
“She’s smarter than she lets on.”
“She’s starting to let on.”
And now that we’re onto the topic, I absolutely believe the mention of Sansa’s intelligence here serves two purposes. The first is to establish Sansa as a real political player here. She’s been underestimated by everyone in Westeros, but she’s far smarter than anyone gives her credit for (yes, even Jon).
In fact, jumping straight to Winterfell, you are given a whole scene of Sansa demonstrating that intelligence – not only in keeping everyone fed, but in keeping the soldiers protected. She understands what it takes to rule. But what I love about this sequence of scenes is Littlefinger praising her then going on to claim to know Cersei better than everyone and Sansa just shutting him down, saying she knows her better. Once again, we’re being forced to consider all that Sansa’s learned from Cersei. She just didn’t learn how to play the game but she learned Cersei herself. If anyone can outplay Cersei, we’re being led to believe it’s Sansa.
Why I think this is important is how this episode also demonstrated that Cersei is once again one of the smartest and most devious rulers in Westeros. She completely outmaneuvered Tyrion, Daenerys and Olenna. People think her ‘madness’ from losing her children will make her weaker, but she’s still as shrewd as ever. She is very much Tywin’s daughter, but she’s much more ruthless. Tyrion may be smart, but thus far? He’s not as smart as his sister.
But who is?
Well, there’s a ‘queen’ in the North who is, and the more I think about it, the more I think this quote is actually referring to Sansa:
“Aye. Queen you shall be… until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear.”
Because Cersei is right. Dany is a revolutionary, not a ruler. She can conquer and free slaves, but she doesn’t know how to rule. She’s not nearly as intelligent as Cersei in playing the Westerosi game, but Sansa is. She’s learned from the very best after all. Whether I’m wrong or right, I am convinced Sansa’s role in this war will be far greater than just ruling Winterfell in Jon’s stead.
Its second purpose is basically to reaffirm Jon’s faith and trust in Sansa and her judgement. But what I found interesting is the way he says it is almost in an exasperated way, like he knows she is and she continues to “twist him in a way no one else can” because she’s too smart for her own good. But alas, the shipping goggles are on, so take that what you will.
Now onto the big anticipated meeting. Honestly, I enjoyed Jon and Dany’s interactions. The juxtaposition of them as individuals and rulers were pronounced in the last episode, but they were even more glaringly so in this one. While Dany continues to talk about her rightful place and her indignation that he refuses to acknowledge what is hers, Jon continues to fight for his people and the war up North. I mean that’s just the thing, isn’t it? Every mention of Dany being this benevolent ruler who cares about the people doesn’t actually come from Dany. She doesn’t actually say she wants to save the people of Westeros. It’s always someone else because maybe, just maybe it’s not really her true purpose here in Westeros. Yes, I don’t believe she would be indifferent to the loss of innocent lives, but if it was the only way to get her to that throne, wouldn’t you think she’d do it? Wouldn’t Dany say ‘to hell with all of it’ and fly her dragons and burn everything in sight for that throne? If it was her only option, she would choose herself over the people.
Hell, she even says it. After her speech about all she’s overcome, she says the only way she’s endured any of that was because of her faith in herself. While it’s a good speech if you take out the context, Dany’s survived and persevered this long because of her unwavering belief in her birthright, which was to rule on the Iron Throne. Everything else comes second to that. And I refuse to believe that the ultimate hero of the story is someone who believes themselves a hero and entitled to a kingdom.
Whereas Jon was thrust into his position. He would choose the people over himself and that difference was emphasised by this quote they just had to repeat twice:
“…took a knife in the heart for his people.”
Also, the fact that Jon cut Davos off before he could blab about Jon’s resurrection and Dany’s fixation on this feels highly foreboding. It’s definitely going to come back up, but in what way, I don’t know.
Objectively speaking, I could see how Jon3rys could be hinted in this episode, as Jon and Dany come to understand each other, but personally, I believe it’s a tentative alliance at best that borders on an impasse rather than actual understanding. Right now, they can work because Dany has bigger fish to fry and Jon needs dragonglass. But when their objectives clash? What then? You could even see this opposition highlighted in the way they were filmed on that cliff. They’re standing together yet they’re facing opposite directions. They spend far more of that scene looking away from one another than looking eye to eye. Having their first one-on-one interaction being filmed in the light is also quite telling. The sun can be a symbolic source of goodness, but it can also be an oppressive force. Actually, it made me think of this quote from Albert Camus’ The Stranger:
“The sky was already filled with light. The sun was beginning to bear down on the earth and it was getting hotter by the minute. I don’t know why we waited so long before getting under way. I was hot in my dark clothes […] it was inhuman and oppressive.“
Jon is a man of the North. His season is winter. I’ve said in previous metas that having Jon’s resurrection coincide with Winter’s arrival was symbolilc. Where usually in literature winter represents a time of stagnancy or even regression in the hero myth, for Jon, it represents rebirth and growth. Winter is a time for Starks. Having such sunlight bearing down on them in this scene (looking more like summer than winter) and Jon still wearing his furs seems to forewarn perhaps bad consequences with this alliance.
For my Jonsa shippers, this is the exact opposite in how Jon and Sansa’s scenes are shot. They’re almost always in dimly lit areas or surrounded by candlelight, and snow is usually falling. Their reunion also coincided with Winter’s coming, so don’t despair if you are over Jon3rys meeting.
Speaking of how scenes are shot, Sansa and Bran’s reunion couldn’t be more of a stark (ha ha) difference to Jon and Sansa’s. Yes, he was never going to run towards her, but she didn’t nuzzle him. I’ve always said the choice of having Sansa nuzzle Jon’s cheek was a bizarre one. It’s just odd. People don’t nuzzle their family members. But maybe she wasn’t in the nuzzling mood, fine. Go to the godswood scene though and there just seems to be such a distance between Sansa and Bran. I think that’s partially Bran being the Three-Eyed Raven as well because the distance was also entirely about who he is now as well.
Anyway, Clearly in the books Bran’s importance and power is more obvious, so they had to demonstrate somehow that Bran as the Three-Eyed Raven can see everything. But why does he bring up Sansa’s wedding? If they wanted to show off his power, they could have him bring anything else up, so why her wedding? Why bring up Ramsay at all? Shouldn’t Bran know better than that? Especially to tell her she looks beautiful that day after already implicitly saying he knows what Ramsay did to her. It feels unnecessarily cruel for Bran who, while seemingly distant, does love her. It has to serve a purpose for them to write that in. Perhaps foreshadowing a future wedding in the cards for Sansa? Perhaps a fake one to LF? Or maybe something further down the line where it’ll be the opposite of everything she had with Ramsay. No godswood, no beautiful white dress, no snow falling, but with someone she loves and who loves her. I don’t know but I’m just speculating here.
Moving on to my favourite scene in the episode though: Cersei with Elaria. Honestly, Lena Heady is a phenomenal actress. Everyone is so focused on Cersei being this horrible evil villain, but you forget the real nuances to her character. When she asks Elaria why she killed Myrcella, it was delivered in such a vulnerable tone. You really, truly get a glimpse of the heartbroken, grieving mother who just tried to do her best for her children (whether that best was actually good or not), but then immediately after, you get the vindictive, cunning and formidable Cersei as she kisses Elaria’s daughter. It was amazing. Horrible but amazing.
Second favourite scene had to be Olenna’s. What is there to say? She is the Dowager Queen of Badass Bitchery and Snarky Comebacks. Give me a great, complex female villain any day! I wouldn’t even call Olenna a villain tbh. But what I mean is I would 150% take morally grey or morally corrupt female characters over your atypical one-dimensional girl-next-door ones any day, week or month.
Stray thoughts that I don’t have time/energy to write about:
Did anyone else get flirty vibes between Tyrion and Dany?
And does anyone think Jorah’s “perhaps our paths will cross again” sound entirely too foreboding for Sam?
lots of y'all like to think harry is this big dark beefed up Dude Bro who’ll beat someone into the ground and will boss people around but he’s really just a sweet lil cupcake who trips over puppies and apologizes to them and jumps fences so he can shake everyones hand and calms people down during panic attacks and gives fans water & food when they feel sick during a concert and tells people not to go to SeaWorld because of the animal cruelty and buys sweets and cupcakes and oreos for everyone and loves haribo gummy bears and rifles through peoples things to find finding dory cookies and giggles when he’s complimented and has twinkly eyes and always looks like a grumpy kitten when he’s deep in thought and is the baby of 1d so the other members are extra protective of him and he loves to flip his hair and tease people and harry is my baby