Summary: Jon and Dany return to Winterfell where Sansa takes an immediate dislike towards Dany, unhappy with Jon abandoning his crown. The others in Winterfell are similarly skeptical. Arya reunites with Jon, Gendry and The Hound, while Tyrion speaks with Sansa. Dany and Jon go dragon riding and enjoy each other's company. Dany tells Sam the fate of his family. Sam tells Jon about his heritage. In King's Landing, the Golden Company arrive and ally with Cersei. Cersei follows up on her end of the bargain with Euron, allowing Theon an opportunity to rescue Yara. Bronn is sent to kill Jaime and Tyrion. Jaime arrives in Winterfell and is immediately greeted by Bran. The White Walkers have gone through Last Hearth, killing everyone there.
The Good: Season 8 had been hyped up as being move-quality for all six episodes, so my expectations were quite high for the presentation of the show. Impressively, the show met and ultimately exceeded my expectations with some astonishingly nice visuals. The episode started on the right foot with the lovely new credits sequence. It was a refreshing change that immediately established the impressive scope of the season. The rest of the episode follows up on this terrifically, with some really impressive details. There were more extras than usual, wider shots of Winterfell, making the castle feel more alive, and some genuinely epic shots while Dany and Jon rode dragons. That last sequence was really nicely shot and would have fit in seamlessly in a "Harry Potter" movie. It was that well done.
Like much of season 7, this episode had plenty of character reunions. There was a nice sequence early on where Arya got to see a bunch of familiar faces arriving in Winterfell before enjoying some reunions later. Her scene with Jon was sweet and well-acted with some nice subtext from both characters. The scene with The Hound was short but sweet, and probably the best-written of the bunch. The scene with Gendry was filled with nice callbacks and continued their dynamic nicely. There were a few other interesting reunions too which had a little bit more story relevance, so I'll get into those later.
There were other callbacks outside of the reunions. The episode opened with a lovely sequence of a boy climbing the walls to see the king arrive. The scene paralleled Bran watching King Robert arrive from back in "Winter is Coming", even going as far as to play the same exact music. Though with the show's wildly increased budget, this arrival felt so much more grand and impressive.
Sam had most of the episode's finest moments. John Bradley gave a great performance and his emotions were very clear throughout the episode. I really loved the scene where Dany told Sam the fate of his family (see: Best Moment), and John Bradley did a great job of portraying how a character like Sam would react to this news. It was a tough episode for Sam who had to go tell Jon about his lineage immediately afterwards in another great scene. Sam brought up some great points to Jon, who now has a very exciting conflict to deal with.
There were a number of intriguing scenes between other characters that caught my attention. Sansa and Tyrion got to see each other for the first time since Joffrey's death, and the scene was great. Their interactions were as awkward as ever and did great things for each character. It continued to show us how Tyrion has fallen from being one of the smarter men in Westeros which is very interesting (see: The Unknown). But more importantly, it brilliantly showed us how much Sansa has matured and how intelligent she has become. She dismisses Tyrion's opinions on Cersei immediately, relying on her own experience with Cersei, and she also sees through Jon's facade, exposing his real feelings about Dany.
The end of the episode was really good. It's nice to see Jaime arriving in Winterfell as well, and seeing Bran actively waiting for his return was a really cool moment and Jaime's reaction was perfect. This reunion was one I never really thought about, so I was pleasantly surprised by it. This should lead into a great arc for Jaime.
The scenes in King's Landing were pretty good. Cersei's disappointment in the Golden Company was consistent with who she is, and I liked her zeroing in on the lack of elephants. I enjoyed all the scenes with Euron. He is still a fun and interesting character in his scenes with Yara and Cersei. I particularly liked him inquiring about how he was compared to Robert and Jaime, it was a nice little bit of character for him. I also liked Bronn being given an interesting conflict this season, even if I have some issues with it (see: The Bad). Also, did we just get an update on the fate of Ed Sheeran's character (the ginger Eddie)? If so, that's a nice bit of continuity.
The scenes at Last Hearth were pretty good. Tormund's eyes always being blue was funny, and I liked that he, Beric and Edd got more scenes. I liked how frightening the scene was, and Ned Umber's scream was pretty scary. This was a fantastic way to establish the wrath that the White Walkers were leaving behind, building up the fear for what is coming later in the season.
There were some nice moments of dialogue. It seems that Varys and Davos exist to provide us with some great dialogue.
The Bad: I loved the presentation, but was disappointed by the writing. Not all of the dialogue in the episode was as great as the scenes which I enjoyed. This show has always been carried by dialogue and most of the best scenes of the show comes from two characters simply talking. There were many opportunities to cover similar scenes here, but the writing failed to accomplish that. At times the dialogue felt clunky, and there was never more dialogue given to scenes than what was needed. While this is efficient to accomplish a lot of different things, it also means that each individual scene doesn't really stand out much. In an episode which is entirely built on scenes of characters talking, this is a problem.
The other issue with the dialogue came from how the episode handled its exposition. A lot of scenes were rushed to get to plot details, such as Sam's reunion with Jon which was rushed through so that Jon could learn about his heritage in a moment that didn't feel as important as I was expecting. It wasn't the content of the scene, but rather the execution that gave me this feeling.
My biggest problem with the episode was its pace. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for slower episodes and I respect the decision to start the season out slowly, but this did not feel like an appropriate time to do this. The White Walkers have broken through the Wall and death is literally incoming. Yet we are sitting around to watch characters talk and ride dragons. Really? The destruction of the Wall should be a much bigger moment than this, and there should be a real sense of urgency in this episode as everyone prepares for battle. But we don't get that, and I was left confused as to why nobody was doing anything. To add salt to the wound, everyone knew the Wall was destroyed and they simply treated it as just another thing that happened. Seriously? This should be an earth-shattering moment, yet it is treated like no big deal. Furthermore, why gather everyone at Winterfell? Surely the Wall should be incorporated into their plans as it is an important asset.
Speaking of making plans, why was nobody doing anything to prepare for battle here? Instead the main source of conflict was that people of the North didn't like Dany and they don't want to fight with Lannisters. Seriously? With certain death marching in, why does anyone even care about this? I don't buy that people would ignore the White walker threat to worry about bending the knee to Dany, especially since the Wall has fallen. Furthermore, this led to one of the dumbest scenes in the show. Sansa brings up a huge problem: food. There is a massive new army to feed and there are no ways to feed them. So how does everyone react to this? They never bring it up again and Dany dismisses it with a crappy one-liner about dragons. Yikes. Who would trust Dany as a queen after this?
The dragon riding scene was a spectacle, but it was really unnecessary. Why the hell would Jon risk riding a dragon when he didn't know he was a Targaryen? Dany doesn't have total control over them and it's foolish of him to try. What if he died? Everybody would freak out and nobody would trust Dany! That would ruin everything and it seems like a ridiculous risk to take. Furthermore, Jon flies right next to Winterfell. What kind of a message is he sending to his people by doing this? Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if his people decide to assassinate him again with how stupid he is being.
Once more the show has fixated around a shouting fest between Sansa and Jon. Are we seriously still on this storyline? It's been going on forever and has been resolved so many times. I really don't care to see it yet again this season. Also, Sansa's distaste for Dany feels so forced. They talk for like one brief 20 second scene and then all that everyone talks about is how Sansa doesn't like her. What? Did I miss a scene or something? Show me that she doesn't like Dany, don't just make people claim that she doesn't like her.
Bronn's scene had some problems. First of all, it was a pretty forced way to get some boobs in this season. Do we really need this nudity? Secondly, why is Cersei trusting him to kill Jaime and Tyrion? Of all the people she could send, I would never send Bronn who knows them well. What if he decides not to do it because of his attachment to them? It would be so much easier to just send some other sellsword/assassin.
Theon getting Yara back was rushed and ridiculous. It's crazy how easy it was for Theon to infiltrate and escape Euron's fleet. The quick and flippant way that Theon rescued her was an unsatisfying end to that storyline. All of that build up for the story, and this is the climax.
Why is Bran not more freaked out that everyone is going to die? Surely he would try harder to get everyone to focus on the main threat.
The Unknown: Will Sansa's distaste for Dany lead somewhere? I definitely think so. Is it possible that she can drive a wedge between Jon and Dany this season?
What will Jon do now that he knows who he is? I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't do anything with the information for now, considering his character and love for Dany. Who will he reveal his lineage to?
Will Bronn go through with killing Tyrion and Jaime or will he ally with them instead?
I'm interested by Tyrion continually being looked over as an intelligent man this past few seasons. Could the popular theory of him betraying Dany have some merit to it?
What about Cersei's pregnancy? She doesn't seem to say anything about it to Euron? Is she pretending not to be pregnant? Or was she never pregnant to begin with and just lied to Tyrion?
What is the weapon that Arya asked Gendry to forge? What does she need it for?
Best Moment: Dany comes to Sam to thank him personally for saving Jorah. She wishes to reward him, yet her good intentions end up bringing Sam nothing but pain as she reveals what happened to his father and brother. It's a heartbreaking scene and John Bradley's acting was damn good.
Character of the Episode: Sam.
Conclusion: A bit of a mixed bag of a premiere. I enjoyed a lot of the individual scenes and I thought there was a lot to like about this. Unfortunately, the lack of urgency, rushed writing and fan service detracted from the episode.
Summary: Dany's army arrives at King's Landing. She has the meeting with Cersei and frightens her with the wight. Euron decides to go to the Iron Islands and stay there. Cersei is on the verge of accepting the treaty but refuses when Jon reveals his alliance with Dany. Tyrion speaks with Cersei and convinces her to help out. Danya nd Jon take their armies to Winterfell. Cersei reveals she doesn't plan to cooperate and has sent Euron to get the Golden Company. This causes Jaime to abandon her cause. Theon decides to go save Yara. Sansa frames Littlefinger for his crimes with evidence from Bran. Arya kills him. Sam arrives in Winterfell and talks with Bran. They discover that Jon is Rhaegar and Lyanna's son and that he is actually legitimate and not a bastard. The Night King arrives at Eastwatch with his army and his ice dragon. He uses the dragon to burn a hole in the Wall and the army advances.
The Good: I appreciated the amount of focus this episode put on the meeting with Cersei. It was treated like a big moment and so when it happened, it felt like a significant scene with a lot of stakes. That's a good achievement when you consider how poor the set-up for this has been. The scenes in King's Landing were strong with a number of great scenes between characters. I liked Tyrion and Pod reuniting, The Hound and Brienne talking about Arya, Tyrion and Bronn being hilarious once again and the tease of Cleganebowl.
I liked the actual meeting too. Euron was a standout again and I like that he was the first to speak before the meeting officially started, addressing Theon directly and taunting him to get him away from Dany. His character has been pretty enjoyable thus far. I also loved his reaction to the wight demonstration. I loved the idea of him just leaving after seeing a terrifying threat even though it was revealed to be a fake move. The demonstration itself was good and I was pleased to see the wights return to being scary and frighteningly fierce creatures. Last episode severely dampened their threat value but it was re-established here.
Cersei had a couple of great scenes with her family where emotions came bubbling out. The scene with Tyrion was electric as it was the first time they had interacted since season 4. The two of them got to let out their frustrations at each other which was fascinatingly undercut by Tyrion's other motive to bring Cersei to a peace offer. Cersei's scene with Jaime was great too. They were building up to a breaking point for a long time and we finally got it in a memorable scene. Having Jaime finally stand up to Cersei and tell her what he should have told her 2 seasons ago was satisfying.
Theon's story in this episode was good too. I liked his scene with Jon due to the performances from both actors which made it feel meaningful even though Theon hasn't really done anything to gain Jon's approval at this point. It was a good set-up for Theon finally embracing himself and finally making the right decision in the next scene as he goes to save Yara.
The wedding reveal was pretty good and shakes up the story in a nice way regarding Jon and Dany's future. This could lead to them coming into conflict which I would like, but I am worried that it will just serve to have a "perfect Targaryen marriage" to end the series. I hope that doesn't happen and I'll optimistically assume that this reveal will take us somewhere good. More than the reveal, I enjoyed Bran and Sam's interactions since it's rare for both of these characters to interact with people outside of their specific storyline. They had a fun conversation with well-written dialogue.
Littlefinger's death was a satisfying moment. While I don't like how we got there (see: The Bad), the moment itself was glorious. It was certainly cathartic to see the instigator of this entire war on his knees begging for life as Arya walks up to him to stab him in the throat.
The Bad: While this did a lot more things right than the last two episodes, it felt a little disappointing as a finale. This was purely set-up for next season and closed very few storylines. Plus, the storylines it did resolve were done very poorly.
Littlefinger's death is the biggest offender for this. His death went exactly as I expected it to go which was extremely disappointing. There was nothing enthralling in the build-up to his death and I absolutely hate that the scene in the great hall was played entirely for surprise instead of any meaningful storytelling. All of the crap at Winterfell we had to sit through in the past few episodes was all so we could have the surprise "Lord Baelish" moment. The worst part is that we never actually learned what Sansa and Arya's plan was and how they set Littlefinger up. There was no explanation or anything, so when rewatching we have to sit through Arya threatening Sansa and wonder why it is even happening. Couldn't Sansa just claim that it happened when it actually didn't? It's not like Littlefinger is Varys who learns anything and everything.
Unfortunately Littlefinger's death scene was hampered by poor writing too. Bran's sudden presence comes out of nowhere with all of his accusations against Littlefinger which he apparently went through in detail with Sansa offscreen (ugh). It was an attempt at another surprise which was completely unwarranted. Littlefinger's reaction to being called out is unbelievable. He immediately admits guilt to killing Lysa even though there is no proof. Surely Littlefinger can easily turn the tables on Sansa by mentioning how she lied to the lords of the Vale and is likely making this up because she doesn't like Littlefinger anymore. If I was a lord of the Vale, I would logically believe Littlefinger's story. Furthermore, can't he just claim how awfully convenient Bran's "powers" are and throw some suspicion on him? Spreading suspicions is what Littlefinger has done for the entire series. But instead of cooking up a story, Littlefinger goes from master manipulator to bumbling buffoon in an instant just so we can have his satisfying death. And that death loses the impact it might have had because the story of his downfall is badly written and tedious to sit through.
The Cersei story sadly lacked tension because it was obvious that she would never ally with Dany. And in the end... she doesn't and is planning her own scheme. And somehow Tyrion does not see this coming. This really goes to show how awful of a plan it was to capture the wight as it failed to change Cersei's mind which I predicted the moment Tyrion brought it up. There was one other major issue with the Cersei meeting and that is Jon's reveal that he is allied with Dany now. This isn't because he didn't lie (that makes sense due to him being Ned's son), but because of his decision to join Dany in the first place. I mentioned how forced it felt in the last episode, and this episode makes it even worse. It's painfully clear here that the only reason he bent the knee was to stir conflict with Cersei making the decision blatantly something that had to be done for plot, opposed to actual character development. Things like this are why I find it hard to believe that this is the same "Game of Thrones" that I fell in love with back in season 1.
I wasn't happy with the Night King bringing down the Wall. First of all, the destruction of the Wall should have felt more frightening and scary yet it didn't capture those emotions for me. The Wall never felt like an obstacle and was only treated as a minor roadblock for the White Walkers which is stupid because it is a 500 foot Wall with only 3 tunnels to get through. Surely the Wall should have been considered in Jon's plans a little more as it's certainly the easiest place to form a defense against the White Walkers. Instead it seems like the characters just say that "oh yeah the Wall is going to come down somehow so we will wait at Winterfell instead". It's very badly done. My point is proven further by the method at which the Wall comes down. Don't get me wrong, it's a cool moment but it raises one very important question: what the hell were the White Walkers going to do if the implausible wight capture plan never happened? They wouldn't have had an ice dragon to bring down the Wall. Were they just going to stand next to the Wall and look intimidating? If that's the case, then just leave them alone and everyone survives. The White Walkers aren't even a problem.
There were some other little things that bothered me. Theon getting kneed in the groin would still hurt even if he is a eunuch. To pretend that it won't is just silly. The boatsex scene was hurt by the fact that it was interwoven with the Rhaegar/Lyanna wedding reveal. It's almost like the writers just wanted to gross us out with incest. Also, Bran says Jon's real last name should be Sand when talking to Sam. Except that's wrong and his last name should be Targaryen because he's legitimate! What a silly failure of an error that makes Bran look like an idiot. Lastly, I don't like what has been done with The Hound. He is being used as "funny guy that says offensive stuff" instead of a character which is a shame. It's funny and entertaining, but I will take the complex man from seasons 1-4 over this caricature.
The Unknown: How will the Golden Company come into the story? What does Cersei plan to do with them?
What will come of Cersei's pregnancy? I thought she couldn't have another child due to the prophecy. Apparently the show has forgotten and Cersei too.
Are Tormund and Beric dead? I hope not.
Best Moment: Cersei and Tyrion's conversation was really good.
Character of the Episode: Cersei.
Conclusion: This episode had some strong moments, but it was still brought down by the usual lazy writing that has plagued this season.
In the end, season 7 was disappointing. It started fairly strong, but the rushed nature of the season and distracted focus of the showrunners made the final three episodes poorly written and disappointing, failing to give me hope that the show will end in strong fashion. This season did provide one great thing with the episode "The Spoils of War" and I'm thankful for that. Unfortunately it also gave us "Beyond the Wall", the show's worst hour thus far in exchange. It's remarkable how different this season felt from the rest of the show and I can sense a clear disconnect with the showrunners and the story they are trying to tell. I guess we may as well wait for GRRM's final two novels to get a satisfying end to this epic saga since this season gave me no hope for the future.
Summary: Arya confronts Sansa about the letter she wrote to Robb. Sansa goes to Littlefinger for advice. Sansa sends Brienne away. Beyond The Wall, the fellowship of the throne are attacked by wights. Thoros is wounded and eventually dies but they capture a wight. The army of the dead chases them and surrounds them on an island. However, Gendry runs back to Eastwatch and sends a raven to Dany. The wights attack the group on the island but Dany arrives with her dragons to save them. The Night King kills Viserion in the ensuing chaos. Everyone leaves but Jon is left behind. Benjen saves him but dies in the process.
The Good: The production in this episode was great. Everything looked really good throughout the episode.
As a big "Lord of the Rings" fan, I did like the idea of making a "Game of Thrones" fellowship and I thought the character interactions in the first half of the episode were pretty good. Tormund and The Hound were consistently entertaining in their roles and their conversations with each other were good. I especially liked Tormund talking about Brienne to The Hound. Jon and Jorah had a pretty good scene as well and I'm pleased that they touched on Longclaw in their conversation.
I liked Tyrion's worries about succession regarding Dany. With her unable to reproduce, it makes perfect sense for Tyrion to put some thought into Dany's future and things that he may need to take care of.
Having the Night King kill a dragon was smart. Now Dany doesn't seem quite as invincible and the White Walkers are even scarier than before. The addition of an undead Viserion is bound to lead to some exciting moments down the road.
The Bad: Unfortunately, this was easily the worst episode that "Game of Thrones" has ever done. There was an unbelievable amount of plot holes, clichés and gaps in logic which just added up more and more as the episode went on.
While I liked the idea of the fellowship, the idea of it is in total contrast with everything I loved about "Game of Thrones". The very existence of a group of heroes going on a quest is not in the spirit of the show and shows that the writers and showrunners and losing sight of what this show is all about.
The polar bear fight was very poor. First of all, the whole battle was practically pointless as it accomplished nothing and existed solely because the showrunners wanted a zombie polar bear (they actually said this on camera). Furthermore, the logic surrounding the battle was baffling. First things first, who were those redshirts that were killed? Were they people who joined up with the fellowship? I swear we have never seen them in any other scene. Or were they just random people who happened to be around? It's so forced and makes little sense. Furthermore, why did nobody do anything while Thoros was fighting the polar bear. The Hound was petrified, but what about everyone else? Were they too busy sipping on tea as they waited? Lastly, the polar bear wight was killed by a stab to the head. A polar bear WIGHT was killed by a stab to the head. If the dagger was dragonglass, then fair enough. But how would anyone be aware that dragonglass kills wights along with the White Walkers? They haven't done it ever before, so surely they should at least react to the bear getting killed by the dragonglass. Furthermore, Tormund attacked with his axe and it did nothing. Why would he refuse to bring a dragonglass weapon when it's the only weapon that would work? Same goes for Gendry's hammer.
This takes me to Thoros' death. Talk about a meaningless death. Deaths in this series have all existed for a purpose, but this one felt more like a "someone needs to die on this mission and we pick him" kind of death. I expect things like this from "The Walking Dead" not "Game of Thrones".
The next action scene was the scout party battle, and it was still terrible. First of all, the actual idea of a scout party is beyond stupid. What the hell are they scouting? There are pretty much zero people beyond The Wall currently, and the only reason Jon's crew were there was because they are idiots going on an idiotic mission. So why would the White Walkers need a scouting group. I'm fin with Jon killing the White Walker, but I'm not fine with every wight dying except one. How convenient!! How implausible is it that every wight doesn't die and that just one survives for them to take? It's downright unbelievable.
Then we get into the group running when the army of the dead comes after them. My first question is, what the hell was their plan of getting away going into this? Did they not plan any of this out? Did they seriously just charge an army of thousands of wights with no plan to escape? What a terrible plan. Logically, they should have had a method to get a wight and get out of there immediately. Yet they don't do this. They just waste time until the cold comes and then they run. But they don't even try to run back to where they came. They send Gendry to Eastwatch and everyone else just goes somewhere else for some reason and they get trapped on a frozen lake like incapable idiots. Why didn't they all run with Gendry and only send him ahead when it was clear that all of them were dead? Also, I think Dany would figure out they died when no word comes back from them, so Gendry running back should hardly be a concern for them. But nope, Gendry has to run back so that Dany can come back and save the day, so he just has to go regardless of how it makes no sense.
The actual retreat to the lake was really poor. First of all, the idea that the ice would break in a perfect circle around the island is dumb and extremely convenient for everyone to survive. Next, is the idea that the wights would surround the group. We haven't seen any intelligence from these things before, and they have only ever charged their enemy with intent to kill. Yet for some reason, these guys now have the wits to surround them on the lake before attacking them? That's inconsistent. Worse yet, are their random showings of intelligence later. They are too stupid to dodge a rock that The Hound throws, yet they are smart enough to notice that the way is clear for them to attack? What the hell. Also, why didn't all of the wights attack after that? Just one went out after seeing the frozen ice. Were the others just daydreaming? The writers weren't even trying to be consistent with wight intelligence.
The actual battle on the island was terrible, even worse than the polar bear fight. It was awfully nice of the wights to go like 5 at a time to the island while all of the others waited around. Whatever happened to the terrifyingly quick and vicious wights that were at Hardhome? Those wights would have crushed these guys in like 2 minutes. But we can't have that happen, so all of the wights are suddenly less threatening because the plot says so. Maybe you can make a case and say that the wights were smart enough to realize that the ice would break again if they charge, but that once more highlights the inconsistent intelligence flaw. The tease of Tormund's death was poor because the moment he went down, he should have died. But the wights have become incapable now and they don't kill him so he can be saved. I guess the wights just got tired from walking all the way to The Wall. The biggest issue with this battle was that it had zero tension. We were obviously killing time for Dany to come in for the save so that's what I was waiting for the entire time.
Dany's attack did nothing for me and also managed to piss me off by being totally ridiculous. First of all, I don't have any emotional reaction to seeing dragons burn stuff so it has already lost my interest. The showrunners apparently think that we enjoy this show because dragons not because of all the other stuff that we actually watched the show for in the first four seasons when dragons weren't doing much. So I was pretty bored by the whole dragon attack scene, but then the boredom eventually turned to anger due to how dumb everything got. The Night King killing a dragon was cool, but why did he attack Viserion? Drogon was literally totally still on the ground but the Night King instead attacks the difficult target for some reason. Why would he not go for Drogon? Killing Drogon will also prevent any of the others from leaving which would cause all of them to die. Plus then the Night King gets a bigger dragon. It's a win-win for him to target Drogon. Also, if he is accurate enough to hit Viserion from that distance while he moves, that makes it even more ridiculous that he would miss Drogon when Drogon flew away. Also, if the Night King has such accuracy with these spears, why didn't he just rain them down on Jon's group on the island while they slept? They wouldn't be able to do anything about it and the Night King would save himself some trouble. Suddenly, the Night King has gone from terrifying villain to another idiot of a villain who is only terrifying and smart when the plot demands it. Also, I was displeased that the dragons never even attempted to attack the White Walkers with their fire. Shouldn't Dany really go after the main threat instead of the random army? Furthermore, it would be way more satisfying if the Night King killed Viserion while Viserion was trying to attack him.
The end of the battle was one of the worst conclusions I have ever seen. So Jon decides to fight the wights because... I have no idea. What was he trying to accomplish? What could he have done? Nothing! So just get on the dragon Jon, you idiot. I was downright angered by this decision because of how stupid, needless and out-of-character it was. Jon is supposed to be a heroic and selfless person not a suicidal fool. The save from deus ex Benjen was ridiculous too. Nice of Benjen to get under two minutes of screentime for him to provide the convenient save and die. That's just bad writing. Furthermore, that makes two deus ex machinas in one episode of this show. Let's not forget that this show was all about avoiding popular fantasy clichés in the first four seasons. To put so many cliches in this one episode is a literal spit in the face of George RR Martin as the poor man has to now watch his masterful works get slandered in the hands of incapable showrunners who have no clue how to provide a satisfying conclusion to this epic franchise.
And of course, I can't forget to mention the ridiculous time jumps that happened in this episode. Just how long were these guys on the damn island? Gendry pulled an olympic marathon by running to Eastwatch, recovered, sent a raven to Dany all the way on Dragonstone which is extremely far away, Dany read it, contemplated what to do, decided to help, flew north on dragons and found the exact spot where the group was. That must have taken several days of time due to the ridiculous distances that would have to be covered, and this entire time the group was just sitting on the island? That's extremely bad.
The ending of the episode with Dany and Jon left me annoyed and disappointed. First of all, I was disappointed in Dany's reactions to the dead army and the death of Viserion. Surely we deserved more of a surprised reaction from Dany when she first saw the army and the Night King. But the biggest offense here is her reaction to losing Viserion. She has commonly referred to the dragons as her children but she doesn't have a motherly reaction to her child's death. Instead she seems more saddened by Jon's apparent death which is just wrong. Furthermore, I was confused by Jon sayign he will bend the knee. Why? What changed from before that forced him to bend the knee now? He has no reason to do this and it's just as stupid as his decision to stay behind to fight.
Now on to the end of the episode. The chains came completely out of nowhere. Where did the White Walkers get them? More importantly, how the hell did they get them onto Viserion? Do not tell me the wights did it, because they were unable to go into the water 20 minutes before this scene. The most annoying part is that this seems like such an unnecessary plot hole to include. How hard is it to just make the Night King raise his arms again and have Viserion burst out from under the ice? Hell it would have made for a better reveal anyways, especially since I immediately figured out that Viserion was coming back as a wight after I saw the chains pulling him up.
And to think that I have written this many complaints without even getting into the Winterfell story. That one is just as bad as this. The showrunners are blatantly setting up for Arya and Sansa killing Littlefinger but they are doing it in a stupid way. They want us to be surprised so they are making it look like Littlefinger is playing Arya and Sansa against each other so that we can be surprised when they turn on him. It's too predictable and that makes it really tedious to watch. The issue of course comes from the fact that they don't appear to be faking it in their scenes. Why is it necessary for them to fake it anyways? In case Littlefinger has spies? If that's the case, how did they communicate this plan without him knowing anyways? The story is very poorly thought out.
It's even worse if it turns out that the two aren't faking it and are genuinely at odds. I didn't wait for them to reunite only for them to start fighting each other. There are so many other conflicts I would rather explore over a Stark family dispute. Furthermore, both characters come off poorly in this conflict. Sansa is foolish for confiding in Littlefinger and sending Brienne away. Arya is totally out of her league and unsympathetic for getting mad at Sansa over something so trivial. Her entire argument makes it seem like she never really grew up past her hate of Sansa at all. So either way this goes, the result is going to be unsatisfying. And it has to be resolved next episode where it will likely be rushed. How did this show come to this?
The Unknown: Is Littlefinger being set up or is he actually playing the Starks against each other?
What will Cersei's reaction be when she sees the wight? I highly doubt that she actually helps Dany and Jon.
Having The Hound use the word "dick" was odd. I don't believe that word has ever been used before so I'm not sure that it exists int his universe. That could be a large inconsistency which perfectly highlights how sloppily the show is being written now. However, I may be wrong so I'm leaving it in The Unknown.
Best Moment: Tormund and The Hound talking about Brienne was entertaining.
Character of the Episode: Tormund.
Conclusion: This was an illogical, stupid and downright insulting episode. The show has fallen off a cliff in the last two episodes and no longer resembles itself. This episode was downright painful and sad to watch because it showed us how far the show has fallen.
Summary: Dany burns Randyll and Dickon when they refuse to bend the knee. Jaime is alive and returns to King's Landing. Dany returns to Dragonstone. Tyrion hatches a plan to bring a wight from the North to convince Cersei they exist. Jon goes on this mission himself along with the newly returned Jorah. Davos takes Tyrion to King's Landing to propose a truce with Cersei via Jaime. Davos meets with Gendry and brings him back to Dragonstone. Gendry joins Jon's group. Jon's group goes to Eastwatch where they encoutner the Brotherhood. The two groups unite and go beyond The Wall. Sansa appears to have a brewing feud with Jon. Arya investigates Littlefinger's chambers and finds a message but Littlefinger is aware of this.
The Good: This was mostly enjoyable from start to finish with a few good scenes but a vast array of flaws that hurt this (see: The Bad).
I really liked Dany's decision to burn Randyll and Dickon. It seems harsh and cruel, but such is the way of war. Dany will have to make tough decisions which polarize her followers and this is one of them. I really like that Varys and Tyrion are unsure of what to make of Dany doing this and are beginning to trust her a little less. Tyrion's reunion with Jaime was another excellent scene. I thought that the emotions were conveyed well from both men with Tyrion desperately trying to explain himself and Jaime expressing his anger. I also enjoyed Jaime telling Cersei that Olenna was responsible for Joffrey's death.
I thought the reintroduction of Gendry was well done. His interactions with Davos were good and I like the idea of him teaming up with Jon as two bastards with fathers who were friends. I was entertained by the scene with the two guards encountering Davos' boat.
The Bad: Sadly this had too many issues and that ruined any chance of this episode being satisfying. I thought it was a poor follow-up to one of the show's best episodes.
I was extremely unsatisfied with Bronn and Jaime escaping so easily. First of all, there is no logic to any of it. Apparently Bronn swam for what looks like a good mile with Jaime, coated in armour and with one hand. I can't buy this would happen at all. Furthermore, it feels like a cheap way to have Jaime escape from Dany's clutches. It's annoying to see the show stage an epic battle last episode only to wuss out on dealing with the consequences of a Lannister defeat. Speaking of consequences of the battle, I was displeased for all of the logistics glossed over. How many casualties were there and how big of a loss was it? The only answer we got was "there wasn't a full accounting". What a cop out. Also, apparently the gold somehow got to King's Landing before this which we should have been told in the previous episode so we could understand the stakes better.
I wasn't pleased with the scenes on Dragonstone either. Jon touching the dragon is cool, but also stupid. Jon should be afraid of dragons at this point, so I find it impossible to believe that he will take the risk of touching the dragon. That Daenerys lets him do so is even stupider, as she surely wouldn't risk her dragon accidentally roasting the King in the North. I didn't like Jorah's return either as it was rushed and that robbed us of the emotional reaction I was expecting. Furthermore, Jorah immediately leaves Dany again which makes no sense to me.
Tyrion's plan with the wight capture has to be one of the dumbest things this show has done. Not only is it a tremendous risk to meet the undead army head-on, but the plan is so unlikely to actually work. First of all, risking the King in the North for this mission is just inexcusably stupid and I'm sure it's a forced way to get Jon to encounter the White Walkers again. The actual plan is idiotic because it counts on Cersei being reasonable enough to take the threat seriously when there is proof that it exists. The issue of course is that Tyrion of all people should know more than anyone that Cersei will not listen to reason and will likely try to stab Dany in the back anyways. It's inconsistent and stupid. Lastly, what is keeping Dany from going on this mission? Is it so important to her that she keeps her base on Dragonstone? It's unexplained why she can't leave.
While I liked the scenes in King's Landing, they were implausible to the highest degree. The first issue coems from the time jumps that are made here. Apparently Davos can row to King's Landing and back before Jon even leaves for Eastwatch which is incredibly dumb. It took Stannis a long time to make the trip with large ships, so it's inconsistent for Davos to go back and forth so quickly. Furthermore, the idea that Bronn would risk everything for Tyrion by having him meet Jaime is extremely stupid. How did Tyrion get in contact with Bronn anyways? It's poorly written. Furthermore, the guards scene was unfortunately quite pointless and it feels like a waste of time in an otherwise packed episode.
I didn't like the Winterfell story either. I have no interest in watching Arya and Sansa come in conflict after spending years apart. Both women come off as petty and annoying as they come at each other's throats. Of course this may all be a plan to frame Littlefinger, but if that's the case, Sansa and Arya are way too good at acting. Naturally the writers don't care about that though and they just want to surprise us when they turn the tables on Littlefinger. Lastly, I was unsatisfied with Arya following Littlefinger. She can wear faces, so why isn't she using that power more? It is literally perfect for this situation.
The Unknown: What will happen beyond The Wall? I get the feeling that the plan won't go as expected.
Apparently Cersei is pregnant now. How will this come into play? Didn't Cersei's prophecy say that she would only have 3 children?
The clever show decided to reveal some essential information through Gilly. Did we just get confirmation that Rhaegar and Lyanna were in a loving relationship? Apparently Rhaegar annulled his relationship with Elia judging by what Gilly said, which is very interesting. Does this mean that Jon is a legitimate Targaryen?
Where will Sam go now? Back to Jon?
What was written on Littlefinger's letter? What is his plan for Sansa and Arya? Are they aware of what he is doing?
Best Moment: Tyrion and Jaime's conversation was the most emotional part of this episode.
Character of the Episode: Gilly.
Conclusion: This was a fun episode to watch but there were so many flaws, it's almost hard to believe. There is a good story in this episode somewhere but the execution was very poor and failed to capitalize on any of the story's potential. This was a disappointment.
Summary: Arya returns to Winterfell and meets with Sansa and Bran. Littlefinger tries to win Bran's trust but Bran reveals he knows the things that Littlefinger has done. Bran thanks Meera and she leaves. Dany and Jon grow closer as Jon shows her some cave paintings of White Walkers. Theon returns to Dragonstone and reunites with Jon who is suitably angry. Dany takes Drogon and her army and attacks Jaime and Bronn's group on the Roseroad. Bronn injures Drogon with Qyburn's scorpion. Jaime tries to attack Dany and is nearly killed. Bronn saves him and throws him into a lake.
The Good: This was an outstanding episode. There were a number of strong scenes throughout the episode culminating in one of the show's very best battles.
The scenes at Winterfell were all extremely strong. Arya's return was genuinely emotional especially since she had spent 3 entire seasons wandering Westeros in an attempt to go home. Now she is finally back and it feels really good. I love the callback to season 1 with Arya having to get past two guards who don't believe that she is who she says he is. It was a nice way to bring everything together. The reunion with Sansa was a lovely moment. I love that they were both able to cast aside the past where they always bickered with each other and viewed each other as fully grown women, and most importantly, as family. I also love Arya mentioning her kill list which Sansa didn't believe only for Bran to reveal the truth.
Speaking of Bran, he's more interesting than he has ever been. I thought the scene with Littlefigner was terrific. I really like the idea of Littlefinger trying to win over Bran since he is the technical heir to Winterfell now. I was intrigued by the scene all the way through, and I was genuinely surprised when Bran quoted "chaos is a ladder". Bran is a total wildcard now and I'm excited to see what else he knows. The ensuing scene with Meera was terrific too. His cold goodbye to her was sad and did a good job of demonstrating how much Bran has lost himself after last season. I also really liked Bran's awkward attempt at kindness when he gave Arya the dagger.
Arya and Brienne's spar was really enjoyable. It was choreographed nicely and was a good way to show us how much better Arya has gotten at fighting after her training in Braavos. It also helped present a very real threat to Littlefinger, who may have to do something out of the ordinary to survive (see: The Unknown).
The scenes at Dragonstone were also very good. I'm interested by this apparent Jon and Dany romance which was slightly hinted at last episode but I wasn't sure that they were heading in that direction. Now it seems very apparent that they are heading towards a romance. I thought the cave scene was done very well and it was nice to get the characters to bond. The reunion between Jon and Theon was very good. This season has been filled with reunions and they are all great. This one wasn't a heartfelt one but was instead very tense. Jon had plenty of reasons to be angry at Theon and it was good to see him let out the anger.
I also liked Davos talking with Jon about his relationship with Dany. The "good heart" joke was funny as he is very clearly attracted to Missandei.
This takes things to the battle at the end of the episode. And what a battle it was. First of all, it looked spectacular as expected. The dragon assault was awesome and the CGI looked absolutely incredible. The cinematography was wonderful too throughout the episode. I especially liked the longshot with Bronn as he struggled to get to the scorpion. It was like Jon's longshot only even more intense and chaotic.
The battle works so well because there are tons of characters we care about involved. I was extremely worried that Dany, Bronn or Jaime were about to take heavy losses or even die in this battle. It had me on the edge of my seat the entire time and ratcheted up the tension to an insane level. Bronn firing at Drogon and Jaime charging at Dany had me speechless and completely invested. I also thought the emotions of the battle were really well done. Bronn deciding to risk his life, Tyrion watching his men die and Jaime make a foolish decision and Dany fearfully riding the wounded Drogon were all powerful moments that got a reaction out of me through all of the intense action.
The Bad: I forgot to mention this in my last review, but it doesn't feel right that Tyrion was outsmarted by his siblings. After all, he has always been the smart one while Cersei has been positively stupid at times and Jaime is no genius tactician.
The ending cliffhanger is a bit annoying with Jaime sinking. It's obvious he won't die from drowning.
Like every battle, there were a few logic gaps here. I don't have an issue with Dany finding the army. After all they are travelling in a long line from Highgarden to King's Landing. She would be hard-pressed to miss them. The issue I do have is on how she got her army to the mainland. Yara's fleet just got decimated by Euron. So how did Dany transport an army to the mainland without boats? That makes no sense. The next major issue comes from the battle itself. I thought it was incredibly stupid that Dany burned all of the gold and the food. Logically, she would take it for herself and use it, but instead she burns perfectly good supplies. If she attacked with only a dragon, burning the supplies would be smart. But since she totally outmatched the Lannisters army, surely she would just kill them and take the food for herself.
The Unknown: What happens to Jaime and Bronn now? Will they be prisoners? Perhaps Bronn will be executed?
Will this Dany and Jon romance become a full-on storyline?
What does Littlefinger do next? I suspect we may be hearing that he has some urgent business in The Vale that he must attend to now that he is surrounded by threats in Arya and Bran.
Best Moment: There are so many moments to pick in this episode. I'll go with Jaime's final charge towards Dany. I really feared that he was about to die there.
Character of the Episode: Dany.
Conclusion: This episode was excellent. Tons of powerful moments capped off with a spectacular battle made this a true series highlight. Even though the way this show works has changed over the past few seasons, this episode proves that this series can still be incredible.
Summary: Jon arrives on Dragonstone and meets with Dany. Dany doesn't believe Jon's claims and Jon refuses to bend the knee. News arrives of the destruction of Yara's fleet. Euron returns to King's Landing and gifts Cersei her vengeance on Ellaria. Bran returns to Winterfell and reunites with Sansa. Jorah is cured and leaves while Sam is allowed to stay. The Unsullied attack Casterly Rock but the Lannister army is gone. Euron's fleet attacks them. The Lannister army takes Highgarden. Jaime allows Olenna to die through a painless poison and in exchange Olenna reveals that she murdered Joffrey.
The Good: This was a very strong episode with a number of great scenes.
The big one was Jon and Dany's first meeting. The moment felt appropriately significant and was very fun to watch. The initial introduction was hilarious as Missandei spewed Dany's 500 titles and Davos responded with "this is Jon Snow... he's King in the North". The ensuing conversation was really strong and both characters stuck to their morals while conversing. Both went in with their own ideals, Dany wanted Jon's loyalty and Jon wanted Dany to fight the dead. Dany pleasingly didn't believe Jon's claims as they do sound rather insane and Jon pleasingly did not kneel to somebody he didn't even know. Both characters are asking for things we want to see happen, but thankfully the writers show restraint and now we have to see both Dany and Jon win each other's trust.
Tyrion was excellent in this episode and had several strong moments of dialogue. Tyrion and Jon's scenes were terrifically written and served as a strong reunion between two friends. I appreciated Tyrion honestly telling Jon what he thinks about the White Walkers threat, and it does a good job of making me anticipate a team-up from these characters.
I enjoyed the scenes in King's Landing. Euron feels incredibly out of place in this show but I enjoy his charismatic personality too much to be bothered by it. He had some great moments in this episode too and has been one of my favourite aspects of this season. Cersei's vengeance on Ellaria was really good. I'm pleased that we weren't given any gratuitous violence surrounding how Cersei tortures Ellaria and we instead got to focus on the emotions of the scene. Cersei enjoyed getting revenge and Ellaria suffered watching her daughter get a death sentence and those were thankfully the moments we focused on.
The ending strategy sequence was conveyed pretty well. I liked Tyrion talking through the plan to take Casterly Rock as it happened and the sequence was crafted well. The twist that it was the trap was pretty good and caught me by surprise. I was surprised to see Dany lose practically all of her allies in two back to back episodes but I think it is a good development overall. This forces Dany to respect Jon and win over his trust as he is her only hope for an ally now.
The final scene with Jaime and Olenna was awesome (see: Best Moment). I thought Olenna's last scene was executed very well as she got a death fitting of the title "Queen of Thorns", pricking Jaime for showing her a little bit of mercy. I also appreciate the irony of Olenna dying via poison, the same way she murdered Joffrey.
A few other scenes were done very well too. I was really happy with Sansa and Bran's reunion. It was a sweet moment, but it was quickly spoiled by the fact that Bran isn't himself anymore. His scene with Sansa at the Weirwood was really creepy and did a great job of making Bran feel like a more interesting character. He has been stale for a long time so this new change actually feels refreshing. The Archmaester's reaction to Sam's operation was good too. I appreciate that he gave Sam credit for performing an extremely tough operation but still punished him for breaking the rules.
The Bad: Dany is too rude to Jon for my liking. Surely she understands that he is a King and should be treated with more respect than he is. Yet for some reason she slanders him at every opportunity and he sometimes does the same to her. Robb was much better at the young king business because at least he tried to carry himself like royalty while also respecting his allies.
Jorah's Greyscale ended up being a bit pointless. It accomplished nothing important and only served to be a delaying tactic so he doesn't get back with Dany so quick. It's a shame as I saw some potential in that storyline.
This episode really suffered from the 7 episode season. The developments all felt extremely rushed and a whole ton happened here with little time to breathe. The ending sequence felt like it could have happened over two episodes but we got it all in under ten minutes which is crazy. It wasn't a huge problem since this episode was very good overall but it could lead to issues later on. Also, Highgarden was weirdly easy to take. No siege or anything and Jaime practically just walked right inside. The excuse that Tyrells suck at fighting is nowhere near good enough to explain this.
A bunch of nitpicks again with the writing. How did Euron know the method of Myrcella's death which he referenced to Cersei? There is no way he would have received word about it. Tyrion's reference to Bronn felt like blatant and unnecessary fanservice. Euron made it to Casterly Rock at a shockingly fast rate which shouldn't be possible. I was confused why everyone at King's Landing were cheering on Euron. I thought they hated Cersei. Did they already forget that she blew up the Sept?
The Unknown: Has Melisandre seen her own death? Apparently she has seen Varys' too. How do they die? Will it be significant?
Will Dany and Jon end up forming an aliance?
Best Moment: Jaime is a good man and he showed mercy to Olenna. A kindness that Cersei never would have given. And despite that, he still ended up suffering as Olenna thanked him in the most brutal way possible. I guess showing mercy will be another mistake for Jaime to learn from.
Character of the Episode: Olenna.
Conclusion: This was very good. There were a lot of good scenes and the story progressed in good ways even if it felt a little rushed. This was a good return to form after the previous episode.
Summary: Dany decides to trust Varys but lets him know that she will kill him if he betrays her. Dany meets with Ellaria and Olenna and prepares a strategy. Grey Worm and Missandei openly admit their feelings. Yara and Theon take Ellaria back to Dorne on their fleet. Sam realizes that Jorah is a Mormont so he decides to help him cure the Greyscale by performing a forbidden operation. Arya runs into Hot Pie who tells her that Jon took Winterfell. Arya heads North instead and she briefly encounters Nymeria. Jon receives an invitation from Dany who wants him to bend the knee. Jon decides to go meet her and leaves Sansa in charge. Yara's fleet is attacked by Euron. The Sand Snakes are killed and both Yara and Ellaria are taken captive. Theon escapes.
The Good: I enjoyed Dany's conversation with Varys. Varys' true loyalties have always been murky and I'm glad that Dany didn't just blindly trust him. While she decides to let him live and serve her, she certainly doesn't trust him. The conversation was really strong. I also liked seeing Dany form her strategy with Olenna and Ellaria, as it was necessary to understand what she plans to do next. I appreciate that Dany doesn't intend to play to Cersei's game by attacking King's Landing and having the people of Westeros turn on her. And on the other side of that, I appreciate that Cersei and Jaime are using the foreigner card on Dany to get the people of Westeros to remain loyal.
I enjoyed Sam's story on the surface. His interactions with the Archmaester remain fun and I like that the Archmaester sticks to his beliefs despite what Sam wants. I also appreciate that the Archmaester is aware of everything Sam brings up, which makes sense considering his title. I liked the idea of Sam deciding to help Jorah upon discovering his family name as Sam is still loyal to Jeor. Also, the cut from the operation to pie was terrific.
Arya's storyline was really good. I was glad to see her run into Hot Pie again and it served as a good way for her to set her sights towards Winterfell instead with the intentions of reuniting with her siblings. Let's hope they aren't dead when she arrives like everyone else. The ensuing reunion with Nymeria was also great. I really liked the storytelling. After Nymeria rejected Arya, she realized that Nymeria has changed. The irony is that Nymeria likely rejected Arya because she knew she had changed as well.
I am pleased with the development of Jon going to meet Dany, which should be a fantastic moment to behold even if the way to get there is a bit illogical (see: The Bad).
The Sand Snakes are dead! Thank god for that, and also thank you Euron. I continue to like him and taking out the show's worst characters certainly helps with that.
The Bad: Unfortunately the sea battle was very poor in my eyes. Not only did it subject us to more Sand Snakes, but the action was no good. It was hard to get engaged since we could never focus on characters we care about. And since everything was so dark and the camera cut too much, it was nearly impossible to figure out what was actually going on. Which of course makes this entire battle illogical anyways. Euron being able to locate Yara's fleet in the pitch black is simply ridiculous and a battle like this would never happen at night.
It's a bit convenient that Sam can learn an advanced procedure to cure Greyscale over night with no medical experience whatsoever. Also, I wish we could learn more about what Sam is putting on the line by doing this. Has he learned enough at the Citadel? Does he care if he's thrown out, which he probably will be? We need to know what kind of consequences Sam will be facing for his decision to do this to have any drama.
I wasn't happy with the Grey Worm and Missandei scene either. With only 7 episodes in this season, it feels like we really shouldn't be spending so much time with these two. If they provided something more than the required quota of nudity I would be fine with it, but there really wasn't much to see here.
There were some other illogical moments here as well. So Dany decided not to talk with Varys about his loyalties until arriving in Westeros. Why wait so long? Also, Dany's plan is a little odd. Apparently she is sending her men to Casterly Rock by boat. If you look at a map, this makes no sense and a fleet would take ages to get all the way over there. I could buy into Euron getting to King's Landing if only because there was a notable timeskip between seasons, but this will take forever. Lastly, Jon's decision to meet Dany in person makes no sense. A King would never go to a meeting himself and would usually send somebody else. Jon has Davos who is literally made for a job like this, but instead he is going himself for some reason.
Jon already approached Sansa about questioning him in front of everyone and yet she does it here again. To make matters worse, she stops talking once Jon gives her power like it's all she wanted by questioning him. It is actually annoying how much she pesters Jon and it doesn't fit with her character at all to behave like this. Sansa has been a character I always sympathized with, and the show is making me dislike her. Furthermore, it isn't only Sansa who is being treated poorly as a character but Littlefinger too. His conversation with Jon was so stupid and I can't imagine what he thought to accomplish by telling Jon he loves Sansa. For a master manipulator, he is uncharacteristically poor at getting people to trust him.
The Unknown: Will Randyll choose to join with Jaime or will he remain with Olenna?
How will Theon survive now that he is stranded in the water?
Was Euron's attack intentional or did he just happen to run into Yara's fleet after leaving King's Landing? If it was intentional (which makes no sense since he wouldn't know where Yara was), does he plan to use his hostages as Cersei's gift?
Best Moment: I'll go with Arya reuniting with Nymeria for its story value.
Character of the Episode: Euron.
Conclusion: This was an average episode with ups and downs until the final battle which condemned this episode as a weak one. But despite that, this episode feels more like a bump in the road than something genuinely concerning.
Summary: Arya uses Walder's face and poisons all of the Freys, destroying their house. Arya heads towards King's Landing next. Bran passes through Castle Black. Jon Cersei forges an alliance with Euron, who Jaime doesn't trust. Sam adjusts to life at the Citadel which isn't treating him well. Sam sneaks into the restricted section to read books about the White Walkers. Jorah is in the Citadel. The Hound and the Brotherhood seek shelter at a house. The Hound recognizes the location from his time with Arya and is disheartened to see the family dead. Thoros shows The Hound a vision in the fire. Dany arrives on Dragonstone.
The Good: This was a solid season premiere which set up the story for the season really nicely with some welcome developments and strong moments. While this episode wasn't as skillfully written as most of the series and had inconsistencies, there were no major problems.
Arya's storyline was pretty solid here. I really enjoyed the opening scene as it was a more enjoyable version of Arya's revenge on the Freys that what we got last season. It was a strong way to kick off the season and I appreciated the twist that Arya used Walder's face to kill the Freys instead of it being a flashback like I had initially expected. Arya's scene with the soldiers was a good way to give us more insight on what is on her mind now. We got a nice moment of her reflecting about Ned, while also showing how she has grown and letting us know that her current plan is to murder Cersei. It was a great showcase for Maisie Williams who conveyed these emotions spectacularly.
Jaime and Cersei's scene was really good as it finally allowed Jaime to face the person Cersei has become. Cersei's lack of regard for Tommen's death was unsettling and was what I expected from her now that she has seemingly lost sight of the person she used to be. I liked the use of the floor map to serve as a quick recap of Cersei's position, and it showed that Cersei has a serious disadvantage despite being Queen. I thought the desperation of Cersei's situation was conveyed well and I bought into the idea that Cersei would turn to Euron for help.
As for Euron, I really liked him in this episode. He didn't get a chance to show off his personality much last season, but here he was given the opportunity. He seems like a fun character with little regard for others and a hidden agenda of his own. I got a good laugh out of some of his taunts to Jaime. I'm very excited to see what kind of a role he will play in the show as his motives remain mostly unclear for the moment.
I really liked Sam's time at the Citadel. The poop montage that opened up his storyline was tremendous with some great editing to give us an idea of what training to become a Maester is like. I also liked Jim Broadbent as the Archmaester and I like the possibly intentional Harry Potter reference with Jim Broadbent being asked about the restricted section in the library. I did like Sam making the decision to put matters into his own hands when he realized that the Maesters were not going to be of any help to his cause. Now it remains to be seen if Sam will be caught and ejected. I also loved the addition of Jorah to the storyline as it seems logical that Jorah would go to the Citadel in an attempt to find a cure to his Greyscale.
The Hound's storyline was the strongest here. I loved the callback to season 4 when he encountered the father and daughter who he declared would be dead by the winter. Now he gets to see that they actually did die and in a very depressing way. It was powerful and served as a good way to show us how The Hound has matured from his time with Septon Ray. I also really enjoyed his ensuing conversation with Beric and Thoros. Beric revealing that he still has no idea why he is being brought back over and over is really good and helps put us into the mind of this seemingly immortal man. Also, Thoros introducing The Hound to the wonders of R'hllor was awesome. The Hound has always been a very pragmatic individual so to confront him with definitive proof of the supernatural in the presence of his one true fear was very smart and I thought Rory McCann did a stellar job of showing the surprise that The Hound was feeling.
I also really enjoyed the artful final sequence of Dany arriving in Westeros. The sequence appropriately captured the emotions Dany would be feeling as she is finally back to her home and also did a great job of making the moment feel as important as it is. It was a great showcase of the visual production of the show too. Back in season 2 the production was never budgeted enough to showcase the beauty of Dragonstone, but now the budget is there and I really enjoyed seeing the brilliance of Dragonstone.
The Bad: Most of the issues I had with this episode were just little nitpicks and inconsistencies with every storyline. First up, I was annoyed by Edd asking if Bran was a wildling, as if he wasn't going to let him through if he was. There is peace now between the Night's Watch and wildlings, so this was an illogical bit of dialogue to add unnecessary drama. I wasn't a fan of Sansa questioning Jon in the middle of everyone. Surely she would at least talk to him in private about this instead of undermining him. Having lived in King's Landing, she should certainly understand that having your men believe in you is important, yet she encourages Jon's men to question his leadership through her actions. The dragonglass discovery that Sam makes is stupid and certainly shouldn't be of any use. Why? Because Jon is with Davos who has lived on Dragonstone for years and most certainly knows about the cache of dragonglass! Also, I forgot to mention this in "The Winds of Winter" but how is Varys with Dany again when he was just in Dorne like two minutes ago? He can teleport! Finally, showing the Lannister soldiers as kind was a bit odd since all soldiers in this show have been portrayed as
Some people will certainly take big issue with Ed Sheeran in this episode. Personally I don't mind it too much since he didn't really detract from my experience watching the show. Ed Sheeran was treated as just another guy and never took the focus away from the story being told. If that is the case, then it is a relatively harmless addition to the show that I certainly won't oppose in its entirety. But, I don't like the idea of celebrities being placed into TV dramas like this, regardless of what their role is. Even though Ed Sheeran didn't detract from the story, he became a major factor of discussion which is annoying. When discussing "Game of Thrones" I want to talk about the show, not Ed Sheeran.
The Unknown: How do Arya's abilities work exactly? Apparently wearing a face actually gives you their vocal ability which is interesting. I would like to learn more about how these powers work but I don't think we will get an answer.
I was about to put this next part in The Bad, but I had second thoughts as this may be an intentional detail. Apparently Cersei knows that Tyrion has been named as Dany's Hand. How? This may be another story inconsistency, but perhaps there is a proper answer to this. Does Cersei have a spy in Dany's group? Could Varys be loyal to her somehow? I'm not sure how that would make sense but it's possible. Who else could it be?
What gift does Euron intend to bring Cersei?
What does The Hound's vision mean? Will the White Walkers simply walk around The Wall? That is certainly a possibility if they freeze the sea and walk over the ice. Does that arrowhead mountain have any significance?
Will Jorah find a cure in the Citadel? Will his interactions with Sam go somewhere?
Best Moment: The Hound seeing the family dead in the corner was really powerful. Great storytelling.
Character of the Episode: The Hound.
Conclusion: While the show has certainly changed over the past few seasons, I can't deny that it is still compelling. This episode provided some very strong set-up for the season while having some powerful moments to boast as well.
Summary: The High Sparrow, Kevan and the Tyrells gather in the Sept of Baelor for Cersei's trial. Cersei blows up the Sept and kills all of them. Tommen commits suicide in grief. Sam arrives in Oldtown. Davos reveals what Melisandre has done and Jon banishes her. Jon is declared King in the North. Bran visits the past and discovers that Jon is actually the son of Lyanna and Rhaegar. Dany secures allegiances with Dorne and Olenna. Tyrion is named Hand of the Queen. Dany finally heads towards Westeros.
The Good: This was a great season finale with a number of stand-out moments which delivered. It's a big step up from the debacle that ended season 5.
The destruction of the Sept was a stellar sequence. As this show has gone on, the production has gotten better and better. With the spectacle of the previous episode and now the fantastically artistic sequence in this episode, it seems hard to imagine any other show ever pulling of cinematic feats like this. I appreciate that so much attention was given to this one moment as it was a massive event which changes the story significantly as Cersei has suddenly put herself in a position where she holds all power, getting sweet revenge on all of her enemies by blowing them up. Except Septa Unella, who she has much "better" plans for. It was in-character for Cersei to do something as crazy as this and it provided a fitting conclusion to the Margaery/Cersei feud. Margaery was great at playing the game, so to beat her Cersei destroyed the game. It's a great bit of storytelling. Also, I thought the musical piece composed specifically for this sequence was superb and darkly beautiful. Finally, I'll spare a thought for Pycelle who died a brutal death which was a long time coming.
The fallout of the explosion was handled well too. I appreciated seeing Jaime come back to Cersei sitting on the iron throne, having murdered many innocents with wildfire. She committed the very crime that Jaime sacrificed his honour to prevent and I'm sure that this will lead to some big conflict between them.
I enjoyed Jon's storyline too. Davos exploding at Melisandre was terrific and I really felt something for him, brought forward by Liam Cunningham's outstanding performance. He was so good here that it makes me genuinely confused why he wasn't given more time to mourn Stannis and Shireen's deaths last season. Hopefully there will be more for Davos to do next season but I'm not too sure where he goes from here. Jon being crowned King in the North was a great moment and a nice callback to Robb earning his men's loyalty back in season 1.
Speaking of Jon, we finally got to know who his mother was! Of course it wasn't a particularly big surprise as many people had already pieced it together, but I still really appreciated the reveal. The cut to Jon's face with a music cue was a tremendous way to give us this reveal without saying a word of expositional dialogue. I have been hard on this show for the past two seasons for being weaker in the details, but I admit that this was exceptionally well done.
I'm glad to see that Dany has made some allies in Westeros. Naturally, Cersei being on the throne has angered some of the kingdoms and so they have thrown in their lot with Dany. Gaining the allegiances of Dorne and the Reach is very big for Dany, and I look forward to the strategies which will be involved in her inevitable clash with Cersei. Also, we got some nice scenes of Olenna being Olenna which I will never complain about. I'm beyond pleased that Dany is finally heading to Westeros, and I can't wait to see what will come next season.
Sam's story was brief but very good. It was nice to finally see Oldtown and the Citadel, plus it gave the show another reason to show off its lovely special effects. I really liked Sam's glee at finally having access to the library and I got a laugh out of him trying to say something to Gilly, only to excitedly shuffle away to the library.
The Bad: I thought Tommen's death was a sad and powerful moment, but it was hurt by a weak follow-up to it. Namely the fact that Cersei didn't really react at all to his death. We know that Cersei values her children above everything, so why didn't we get more? Surely that story warranted a bit more focus as it could have led to a great realization for Cersei as she faces the consequences of her actions. Instead, we have been given the story that she no longer cares and appears to have completely lost it. I am fine with that story, but it needed to be built up in prior episodes, more than just some moments of foreshadowing.
I wasn't happy with Dany making Tyrion her hand. What reason has Tyrion given to her for her to award him this position? Tyrion failed to rule Meereen while she was gone and caused a siege, so why does she put her faith in him? If Tyrion had been more successful and had the two of them shared more than three scenes together, this may have had greater impact. For example, if Jorah was in this scene instead it would be very emotional. Instead, we get Tyrion being made Dany's hand simply because it's a cool moment.
I did not like Walder Frey's death at all. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to see him dead but the way it happened was extremely unsatisfactory. It's very disappointing that the two men responsible for the red wedding, Frey and Roose, both died lame deaths. The problem with this death is that it made no sense. Arya left Braavos two episodes ago. Yet somehow she made it all the way to Westeros and crossed half the continent to get to The Twins. And after that she was able to easily infiltrate the place with her new abilities and murdered the Freys and took out Walder with total ease. Why should we care? This doesn't feel like a character journey for Arya at all. She just killed him and there was nothing to it. No relief, no specific satisfaction for Arya after a executing a tough job. All we are left with is "oh good Walder Frey is dead". That is nowhere near enough for the man responsible for one of the most brutal moments in TV history.
Cersei was told to confess as soon as she was thrown into her cell. Did Loras not get the same option? He was broken a long time ago, so why didn't he just confess back then?
The Unknown: What will Sam learn at the Citadel?
Where will Melisandre go now? To Cersei? Dany? Perhaps she will secure an alliance with Dany.
How will Jaime react to Cersei's actions?
Best Moment: The entire 10 minute sequence of the destruction of the Sept was outstanding. The production made this really feel like one of the great TV moments.
Character of the Episode: Cersei.
Conclusion: This episode delivered an explosive ending to the season which changed the story in big ways and sets up season 7 very nicely. There were some issues with this, but as a whole it was tremendously exciting and exceeded my expectations.
This season was thankfully a big improvement over the last but it still feels like something is missing from the show that was there before. This season was consistent and aside from "No One", there wasn't anything particularly bad about it, except the obvious flaws for each individual episode. However, the show does feel changed. This was perhaps the most eventful season to date, yet it was my second-least favourite. I believe this is because the show has run out of book material to adapt, and without GRRM's impeccable writing, the storylines have become simpler, less poignant and at times rushed. However, none of these flaws feels like they ruin the season. The biggest blessing for this show is that it has already invested me in its characters and storylines. Because of that, I still get a lot of enjoyment from these 10 episodes, and while it doesn't live up to the high standards of season 1-4, I can still say it was a good, fun season. Now with 13 episodes left, its time to see if "Game of Thrones" can have a final act that lives up to the high expectations.
Summary: Dany attempts to get the masters to surrender. They refuse so Dany unleashes the Dothraki and her dragons on them. Tyrion brokers a peace agreement, killing the 2 head masters in exchange. Dany meets with Yara and Theon. They form an alliance. Jon and Sansa make final plans before battle. Both armies confront each other. Ramsay kills Rickon which infuriates Jon. The battle starts and Ramsay quickly gets the advantage. Littlefinger arrives with his army to turn the tables. Ramsay retreats to Winterfell but the door is broken by Wun Wun who dies. Jon defeats Ramsay and takes Winterfell. Sansa lets Ramsay's hounds eat and kill him.
The Good: Visually speaking, this was the most impressive episode that "Game of Thrones" has ever done. The assault on Meereen and the titular battle were shot spectacularly with gorgeous special effects and cinematography. I have never seen a TV show come as close to producing a movie-quality hour as this one episode. It is a tremendous feat.
The spectacle in Meereen was pretty neat to watch. I will admit that it is extremely satisfying to see Dany finally living up to our expectations and conquering a city with fire and blood, which has been hyped for a long time now. I've been annoyed that Dany has taken so long to start conquering, but the wait has somewhat paid off because the moment feels much sweeter than it would have if it happened back in season 3.
On the other side of the episode, the chaos of the central battle was superbly conveyed. The whole thing was an entertaining and jaw-dropping fight scene which delivered an appropriate amount of thrills and brutality. I especially loved some of the cinematography done in this battle. I really liked the camera following the arrows as they flew through the air into the battle. The sound effects were just as superb as the visuals. Better than that were the artistic shots to take us through the battle. The longshot showing Jon fighting is the battle was incredibly well done and left me really impressed at the co-ordination that it must have taken. The scene itself did a fantastic job of showcasing the brutality of battle by having Jon encounter many close calls while viciously fighting anyone that he could. The other scene I want to point out is when Jon was being trampled by his own army. It was a horrific thought conveyed perfectly as I legitimately felt claustrophobic because of the way the camera constantly showed us the rapidly moving army from the eyes of Jon who was suffering beneath all of it.
The conclusion of the battle was pretty good as well. It was great to see Ramsay get his comeuppance and his brutal death was fitting for his character. It's good to finally be rid of his vile and torturous attitude.
I got a laugh out of Yara subtly hinting at enjoying a wedding with Dany. A lot of the dialogue between Dany and Yara was pretty well written.
The Bad: Unfortunately I found a lot of this episode to be lacking in substance. Sure, it was very pretty and exciting to watch, but there were many gaps underneath the surface.
The first issues come from Meereen. The problem is that I wasn't very invested in Dany conquering Meereen. The set-up to this final confrontation was quite poor and I was never once excited for this big upcoming climax in the previous episodes. It just sort of happened, and then Dany came back to clean it up. It was cool, but what was the purpose of it? No character arcs were furthered and there was no development whatsoever. It was a fun scene but it lacked emotion and depth. Sadly it was not memorable and a few days after watching the episode, the scene has not stuck with me at all. Surely a climax like this ought to have resonated more than it did?
The dealings with Yara and Dany were fine but it had one really dumb moment, and unfortunately that moment is central to the whole scene. That moment was Yara agreeing to abandon her entire way of life to suit Dany's needs. She has lived with the Ironborn her entire life yet for some reasons he thinks they will just agree to stop raiding and pillaging. Has she met them? No way that any of them agree to this. Yara would be kicked off of the salt throne in mere minutes if she goes through with this.
Before I get to my qualms about the battle, I have to address the problem which has plagued this whole season. That problem is that the show has taken a liking for paint-by-the-numbers fantasy cliche scenes. The first four seasons would never have indulged in any generic scenes but this season has been full of them. It's worth noting how extremely basic this season has felt and the show has lost that morally grey feeling it had done such a great job exploring in the first four seasons. This is evidenced in this battle which is more good vs evil than any other human drama the show has done until this point. Where is the complexity of the Battle of the Blackwater or the Battle of Castle Black? I think that complexity helped make those battles feel more pivotal and special than this one. I did appreciate the dichotomy shown between Jon and Ramsay, but things like that have never been the reason why I liked this show. I don't watch this show to see a good vs evil battle, I watch it for the complex human drama conveyed through a variety of different characters in a medieval world.
Speaking of generic scenes, one of the biggest ones in this episode was the Jon/Sansa shouting fight. Instead of staying true to these characters, their scene together features forced drama as both of them argue about the upcoming battle. It's hard to buy into Sansa being the one to do this with Jon considering her character arc and her lack of history in warfare, something the episode even acknowledges. Another generic scene was Sansa telling Ramsay he will die before just riding off. Such basic storytelling. This show is above things like that.
The kick-off of the battle with Rickon dying was really bad. Rickon died and it left me feeling absolutely nothing. They didn't even try to make us sympathize with him or care for him. Hell he didn't even get a single line of dialogue this season! To do that and expect us to care for his death is ridiculous. And I caught the writers resorting to surprise to get a reaction out of us again to try to get us to feel something for Rickon. As I've said for the past season and a half, surprise is not an effective way of getting us to care about the scene that is being presented. We need emotion for that. Of course, Jon reacts very poorly to Rickon's death and stupidly compromises his entire strategy by charging Ramsay alone. What a stupid battle plan.
Some moments in the battle didn't impress me. I was extremely displeased by Littlefinger's sudden arrival (oh look another "surprise!" moment). I hate the idea that Sansa knew about this yet she didn't tell Jon about it. Why on Earth would she keep it secret? Surely she would tell Jon and they would implement Littlefinger's army into their battle plans. It's a key asset, so use it. But instead we need a surprise, so she keeps it secret. Even dumber is the fact that Littlefinger got to Winterfell undetected. Did Ramsay leave no scouts from Winterfell to Moat Cailin? It's dumb enough for him to leave Moat Cailin unguarded, but to have no scouts whatsoever is the height of stupidity. Why should I fear this man who is a total dunce at strategy? The shield wall was a good visual moment but a very impractical one. Are we supposed to believe that every guy in Jon's group just gathered together and allowed themselves to be surrounded? Something like this would never work in real life. Men on foot would never be quick enough to surround an army.
Ramsay killing Wun Wun with one final arrow was such a cartoony moment. We get it, Ramsay is evil.
The Unknown: Will Yara betray Dany eventually? I sincerely hope her agreeing to Dany's terms is just to secure the alliance and not to actually follow through with it.
Has Davos figured out what happened to Shireen? Maybe we can finally see him express some emotion regarding Stannis and Shireen's deaths.
Best Moment: Jon being trampled by his own army was excellent. The suffocation was conveyed magnificently.
Character of the Episode: Jon.
Conclusion: This was one hell of a spectacle which was extremely enjoying from start to finish. But under the surface of the brilliant action, this was a poor episode filled with dumb moments and a basic layout which dampens the score significantly. Out of respect for the way this episode was put together and the fact that it was pretty fun, I won't give this a bad score but I feel like this could have been much, much better.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.