GOTS07: ‘Eastwatch’ Recap

We open on Bronn and Jaime, surfacing on the opposite side of the lake after apparently swimming the length of it underwater. So not only are we tearing through the fabric of space-time so characters can traverse immense distances within a day, we’re also ignoring the biological limitations of the average human body. Got it.

Bronn asks what the fuck Jaime was doing charging at Daenerys and Drogon. Jaime wanted to end the war by killing her. Bronn wins me back by calling Jaime a cunt and telling him he’s not allowed to die until Bronn says so. After witnessing what one dragon’s capable of, Jaime’s realises they have no chance of defeating three of them and needs to tell Cersei. Yup, and I’m sure she’ll be super reasonable about it.

Tyrion walks through the smoky aftermath of the battle, clearly appalled. I get his inner conflict at the sight of his family’s forces reduced to ashes, but I also wonder what he was expecting the dragons to be used for? Super-fast defrost?

The survivors from Cersei’s forces drag themselves before Daenerys. Drogon’s perched behind her, hoping for treats. Dany tells the soldiers she’s not like Cersei; she just wants to protect the common people and break the wheel of privilege and stuff. She totally doesn’t murder people…so bend the knee OR DIE.

Most of the men kneel after a little nudge from Drogon, but not Sam’s arsehole dad or Rickon-Dickon. Randyll Tarly insists he already has a queen. Tyrion points out that his loyalties are somewhat flexible, given he was loyal to the Tyrells up until recently. Randyll gives Tyrion shit about murdering his own father – yup, the guy who was going to kill his own son and make it look like a hunting accident. Pot-kettle, Sam’s arsehole dad!

Lord Tarly refuses to bend the knee and won’t concede to being sent to the Wall. Dany respects his choice and asks if he can kindly move away from the others – he’s about to become a human fire hazard. Rickon-Dickon, who seems like a nice kid but not the sharpest sword in the armory, steps forward to say he won’t bend the knee either. Looks like Sam’s going to inherit Horn Hill after all.

The Targaryen-Jaws theme kicks in. The Tarlys receive the dracarys treatment, which leads those still standing to fall to their knees. Tyrion’s clearly uncomfortable with Dany’s methods. Dany’s starving and could really go a burger.

Inside the Red Keep, Jaime rushes to tell Cersei they’re fucked. Cersei’s pretty matter-of-fact about it, asking what he think’s she’s supposed to do – propose a peaceful surrender? He did betray and kill Dany’s dad, after all.

Jaime tells Cersei that Tyrion didn’t kill Joffrey – Olenna did. Cersei barely registers this aside from wishing she’d ignored Jaime and tortured Olenna to death. So I guess Tyrion’s not getting an apology anytime soon then? Jaime tells Cersei they’ll be wiped off the map like the Tyrells if they don’t find a way out of this war. Cersei would rather fight and die than submit and die, and can’t understand why Jaime’s not down with that plan. Have I mentioned how much I hate Cersei’s wig?

Dragonstone, where Jon Snow’s brooding on the cliffs again, his cloak flapping in the wind. FFS Jon, can’t you just sit in your room and sulk while listening to The XX like everyone else?

He watches Dany approach on Drogon and looks suitably awestruck. Drogon lands and gets up in Jon’s face, preparing to bite his head off. No, wait – secret-Targaryen pheromones. In that case, he just wants a head scratch! Good boy! Dany watches Jon pet Drogon and silently thanks the Gods; Drogon used to shit in Daario’s shoes all. The. Time.

(This scene’s reminiscent of that time Tyrion managed to pat either Viserion or Rhaegal…so I’m still leaning towards Tyrion being the third head of the dragon.)

Dany jumps down and Drogon gives her a hilarious ‘is this our new Dad?’ look before taking off. Dany tells Jon that the dragons are her children. Jon stares at Dany with unrepressed longing…or he think’s she’s butt-fuck crazy. I’m can’t tell.

Jon marvels at the short commute between Dragonstone and the freaking Reach. Dany announces she has fewer enemies than she did yesterday. Jon disapproves and broods at the same time. Dany tells him they both want to help people, and sometimes that means melting the flesh from the pawns that make up your enemy’s armies and reducing their bones to ashes on the wind.

Dany presses Jon for more info about what Ser Davos said when they first arrived – something about taking a knife to the heart? Lucky for Jon there’s a distraction: Jorah’s back!

Dany’s thrilled. Jorah’s wondering if pity sex is out of the question. Jon’s pissed off. Or cold. Or mildly confused…that’s the problem with lingering looks when the actors are squinting against the frigid wind – they’re so damn ambiguous.

To Winterfell, where Bran wargs into a crow to fly North and see what the Night King is up to. He comes upon the army of the dead and sees they’re heading for Eastwatch by the Sea. Send ravens, Maester not-Luwin!

To the Vatican Citadel, where a bunch of old white men in robes are sitting around a table, discussing how superior they are to everyone else. Sam enters and overhears the contents of Bran’s message. Yet again the maesters refuse to listen when he tells them it’s all true – the army of the dead are coming. He leaves in a huff.

Dragonstone. Tyrion’s drinking and Varys is fidgeting. They’re worried Dany’s becoming a Sith Lord, like her father before her. Varys has Bran’s raven for Jon Snow – pre-read, or course.

Cut to Jon, finding out that both Arya and Bran are alive. Dany’s right – he seems fairly upset about it. Jon announces that he needs to go home – with the army of the dead approaching Eastwatch, his (remaining) family are in danger. He’ll fight with the men he has, unless Dany will join him. Dany’s unwilling; as soon as she marches away, Cersei will march in.

And here comes the stupidest plan in the history of Tyrion’s stupid plans. Don’t get me wrong, he’s my favourite and all – but this idea is fucking preposterous at both ends. I know! Let’s appeal to Cersei’s better nature – which quite clearly doesn’t fucking exist, btw – by sending approximately 5 dudes to track down the immense army of the dead and kidnap a wight. Assuming that doesn’t go tits-up – and it will – we’ll take said dead guy to King’s Landing and present him to Cersei, at which point she’ll surely express her horror (even though she’s basically got a dead guy as a bodyguard) and dedicate her remaining forces to defeating the White Walkers, HURRAH!

Everyone nods at the sheer brilliance of this idea.

Fuck. Me.

Tyrion’s going to talk to Jaime to get him to convince Cersei. Jorah volunteers his services to capture a wight, which makes Jon feel inadequate – so he’s going too. Dany’s devastated – she hasn’t slept with him OR burnt him alive yet, so she’s not giving him permission to leave. Jon tells her he put his trust in her – now she has to put her trust in him.

To Winterfell, where the fickle Northern Lords and Knights of the Vale have had enough of Jon’s absence, and want Sansa to take over. Christ. Whatever happened to ‘the North Remembers’? Sansa makes a half-hearted attempt at assuring them Jon’s doing what he thinks is best, while Arya watches on. They lock eyes; Starkbowl’s a brewin’!

Sansa and Arya walk and talk. Sansa snits that she warned Jon that this would happen; he couldn’t leave the North and expect it to sit and wait for him, like Ghost. Between that and Davos joking later that he thought Gendry might still be rowing, I’m beginning to think the writers are using fan memes as source material now they’re well beyond the books.

Arya defends Jon, telling Sansa he trusted her to take care of things while he’s gone. They enter Sansa’s chamber, which was once Ned and Catelyn’s – and Arya’s unimpressed. The sisters argue, and Arya uses her House of Black and Boring powers of deduction to guess Sansa’s motivations: she wants to lead instead of Jon, and is banking on the support of the Northern Lords and the Knights of the Vale. I’m distracted by the height discrepancy between the two of them; Maisie Williams makes Sophie Turner look like the BFG. Anyway, tensions are escalating quickly between the Stark sisters, and neither of them has even ‘borrowed’ anything from the other’s wardrobe yet.

BOOM, Davos and Tyrion are in King’s Landing. Seriously, it’s like watching Bewitched. They pull their boat ashore and head in separate directions; Tyrion’s off to find Jaime, while Ser Davos has Baratheon-bastard business to attend to in Flea Bottom.

Bronn leads Jaime through the dragon museum beneath the Red Keep for a ‘secret training session’, aka angsty brother reunion. Jaime isn’t happy to see Tyrion, while Tyrion’s clearly happy to see him – Dinklage the master plays this scene perfectly as the little brother desperate to reconnect with his brother and make him understand his reasons for killing their father. Personally I buy the whole ‘he was going to execute me for no reason’ thing, but not Jaime. Noooo siree. Tyrion kills their father before their father can behead him – unforgivable. But Cersei, long murderous history aside, blowing up an entire landmark full of innocent people – that’s fine. Sigh. Fuck you, Jaime.

Tyrion tells him Daenerys is willing to cease hostilities if Cersei agrees to certain terms i.e. let’s meet up for brunch – you bring the wine, we’ll bring the dead guy.

Ser Davos finds Gendry working on the Street of Steel. Gendry, seemingly high on speed or other methamphetaines, jumps at the opportunity to join the cause without actually knowing what the cause is. But he has a hammer, like his father before him – which I thought was cute.

This week’s comic relief is brought to you by two moronic Gold Cloaks, who allow Ser Davos to ply them with gold and fermented crab when they stumble across the boat. I’m not opposed to these kinds of scenes, but I feel like the time could have been invested in a prolonged conversation between Tyrion and Jaime – their love and conflict is far more gripping. The Gold Cloaks buy Davos’ story until they spy Westeros’ Most Wanted Dwarf. Gendry takes care of business with his hammer – and the comic relief is now dead. Last week’s guards at Winterfell got off easy in comparison.

Back in the Red Keep, Jaime confesses to Cersei that he met with Tyrion, who told him Daenerys wants to meet up to chat about the army of dead men marching on the seven kingdoms. Cersei’s in; she thinks it’s a great opportunity for Red Wedding 2. Also, she’s knocked up. Jaime’s thrilled, but also creeped out when she tells him never to betray her again. Is Cersei really pregnant, or just playing Jaime to ensure his continuing loyalty? What will they name this one? Will it burst forth from her stomach, Xenomorph-style? So many questions.

Davos introduces Gendry to Jon Snow. Gendry, still riding high and unblinking on crystal meth, vows to fight the good fight with Jon beyond the Wall. Also, he comments on how short Jon is. Ha! Joe Dempsie plays Gendry with the intensity and impulsiveness that the young Robert Baratheon was known for, but I think the issue is that it’s so vastly different from shy, quiet Gendry of seasons past – and we haven’t witnessed how his character evolved during the time in between.

On the beach, Tyrion and Jorah have a bro moment of farewell – I’ve missed these two together. Also, I’m calling it: Jorah’s gonna die next week. Possibly sacrificing himself to save Jon, knowing Khaleesi’s smitten with him.

Speaking of Dany, she’s here as well – remarking that she and Jorah should be better at saying farewell to each other by now. Erm…I’m not sure those two times you sent him into exile count?

Now it’s Jon’s turn. I’m pretty sure Kit Harington’s boots have kitten heels. Dany pins him with the look of super-speedy-underdeveloped love, and says she’s grown used to having him around. Jon: *backs away*….well…gotta go! Sad music plays. Jorah looks back one last time. Don’t worry, Jorah…your time in the friend zone is about to end. Forever.

Oldtown, where Sam’s scribing and Gilly’s memorizing facts for the next Westerosi Trivia Night: blah-blah number of steps in the Citadel. Blah-blah number windows in the Sept of Baelor. Blah-blah-blah Jon Snow’s actually the trueborn heir of Prince Rhaegar and legitimate King of the Seven Kingdoms. Mic drop!

Sam (steamrolling over Gilly, as usual): THAT’S IT. There’s nothing to be learnt here…I quit! And he does, after stealing some books – Sam’s turning out to be quite the kleptomaniac.

Back to Winterfell now, where Arya is spying on Littlefinger. And when I say spying, I mean lurking in a fairly obvious, well-lit fashion. Given he’s a seasoned veteran of the King’s Landing spy network, Littlfinger’s clearly onto her and makes a show of looking especially shady.

Arya eventually breaks into his room and finds a secret scroll she saw Maester not-Luwin give him; it’s the raven Cersei forced Sansa to write back in season 1, denouncing their father and calling for Robb to bend the knee to Joffrey.

Arya’s shocked and horrified, and I seriously don’t know why. Wouldn’t she put two and two together and realise it was a political move on Cersei’s part? She’s smarter than this. She’s always been smarter than this. Yet we’re meant to believe Littlfinger is playing her like a violin? Or is this a double-pretend on Arya’s part? I’M TIRED AND HUNGRY.

Jon and co arrive at Eastwatch. Inside the castle, Torment says the only sensible thing anyone’s said during the entire episode: this is a stupid fucking idea. He also gets the best line: And you need to convince the one with the dragons, or the one that fucks her brother?

Turns out Jon and the gang aren’t the only ones who want to commit suicide beyond the wall: the Brotherhood – including the Hound – are here for the same reason. They compare notes and decide that for the sake of plot expediency and a super-dramatic end shot, they’ll all head out together.

The gate’s raised, and after some dramatic staring at each other, the Fellowship of the Dead-Guy head out into the true North.

Next week: Death is the enemy! Jon! The Hound! Lots of snow! Dany and Tyrion! A shit-ton of dead guys! Arya VS Sansa! Muchos fighting! Beric’s flaming sword! And hopefully one kick-arse, dragon-operated rescue mission? Yes??

 

GOTS07: ‘The Spoils of War’ Recap

We open on the Lannister forces, lugging their Highgarden loot towards King’s Landing. Jaime’s still burning from Olenna’s epic last words, but at least he has carts full of gold to show for it. Bronn’s dirty about not being paid what he was promised because he doesn’t have a castle yet. Jaime tells him to shut up; the purpose of this scene is to explain all the gold is to pay the Iron Bank, not complain like a whiny bitch.

…which leads us to another thrilling finance meeting between Cersei and Mycroft Holmes, aka Iron Bank muscle. Next week: Mycroft takes us through a PowerPoint preso outlining the Iron Bank’s brand mission statement and corporate values.

Mycroft continues with his you’re-truly-Tywin’s-daughter bullshit, which even Cersei finds boring now. Then it’s back to looking at the floor map of Westeros, which must have been quite an investment for the GoT art department given how much time we seem to be spending on it.

Ceresi tells Mycroft that her only venture right now is regaining control of Westeros and all its inhabitants. Mycroft happily volunteers investment from the Iron Bank…as soon as the Crown’s debt is paid. Smarmy smile.

To Winterfell, where Littlefinger is giving Bran a present; the Valyrian Steel dagger the assassin used to try and kill Bran waaaay back in season one. Bran seems unimpressed; clearly Littlefinger doesn’t have Euron’s knack for choosing gifts.

Littlefinger pulls out all the vacuum-salesman stops to tell Bran just how much he wants to protect Catelyn’s children, and wow – he just can’t imagine what Bran saw beyond the Wall.

Bran cuts through the shit by quoting Littlefinger, circa season three: ‘Chaos is a ladder’. Littlefinger’s eye twitches, which is probably the best indication we’ve ever had of genuine emotional turmoil from him. It’s fun watching him squirm. Seriously though, Bran – you know you’ve reached peak weirdo when you manage to creep out Littlefinger.

Meera arrives to break the tension…or make it worse? Basically Bran = guaranteed awkwardness these days.

Bran already knows why she’s here; she’s leaving. Meera tells him he doesn’t need her anymore. Bran: No. I don’t. I’m not sure if Bran’s humanity has been consumed by his expanding omniscience, or if he’s just your average teenage boy with the emotional depth of a Cheezel. It’s hard to say.

Meera’s heartbroken and points out that her brother, Hodor, Summer, and pretty much all the Children of the Forest died for him. She nearly died for him. Bran explains that he’s the Three-Eyed-Psychopath now, and thus can’t remember what empathy feels like anymore.

Meera tells him he died in the cave, and leaves.

We cut to Arya, contemplating Winterfell from a distance. The musical theme of the North kicks in. After so many years of turmoil and solitude, she’s finally made it home. I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying.

Upon arrival she’s confronted by two incompetent guards. They argue about who’s going to tell Sansa about her. Arya soaks up the Winterfell-vibes before doing a runner.

Sansa knows where she is, though. Sisters know these things. But I have to say, I wouldn’t be looking for mine in a crypt; the first place I’d check would be my shoe cupboard.

Sansa and Arya’s reunion isn’t unpleasant, by any means. There’s hugging. But it’s a bit matter-of-fact. I know they never had the closest relationship and they don’t have much in common, but hell – any surviving Stark should be pretty stoked to see another one, right?

Arya doesn’t think her father’s statue looks like him. Sansa points out that pretty much everyone that knew his face is dead. Arya: ‘We’re not.’ They smile at each other, and it’s a nice exchange between the two Stark girls who have proven themselves the ultimate survivors – true wolves. Until Arya mentions her kill list, which Sansa assumes is a joke. Arya: Um…yeah….sure.

 Sansa tells Arya that’s Bran’s home as well, and the look on Sansa’s face tells Arya something’s not kosher.

Bran’s parked in the Godswood, ready to pass on his new dagger to Arya. Clearly he knows she’s going to do something momentous with it, and I’ve been trying to figure out what. Kill Littlefinger? Awesome, but you don’t need Valyrian Steel for that…a can of Mortein would probably do the trick. Although I suppose it would be poetic if he was killed with a weapon that originally belonged to him. Alternatively, Arya will be instrumental in the war against the White Walkers, and given the mad skillz she shows later in the episode that could be a showdown to look forward to.

Brand gifts the knife to Arya, and I have to feel a bit sorry for Sansa; Arya reunites with Bran and gets a priceless Valyrian Steel weapon. Sansa reunites with Bran and gets cruel commentary on how beautiful she looked the night she was brutally raped. Could Bran be any more of a prick at this point?

To Dragonstone, where Missandei and Daenerys are indulging in some boy talk. Eunuch talk. Whatever: Missandei got some action. Daenerys is all: DETAILS! Not now, Dany – Jon Snow wants to lead you into a dark, sexy cave and talk about uniting your ‘houses’. Clearly he learnt this trick from Ygritte. I miss Ygritte.

Jon shows Dany the sparkly rock paintings of the Children of the Forest, which show that they teamed up with the First Men to defeat the White Walkers long ago. Dany tells him she’ll fight for him – and the North – if he just bends. The Freaking. Knee.

Jon tells her that the North won’t accept a Southern ruler after what they’ve been through. Dany echoes what he once told Mance Rayder: Bend the knee to save your people, moron. As my husband points out, there’s a viable – if incestuous – compromise staring them in the face.

Jon and Dany exit the caves to find Tyrion and Varys waiting for them, looking forlorn. Cue Dany completely losing her shit after she finds out Casterly Rock was a setup. The best part is when Jon rolls his eyes at Davos. You’d never see Ygritte have a tantrum like this, Jon…she’d just shoot you full of arrows and be done with it.

Dany questions Tyrion’s loyalty, given his backfiring strategies and insufferable reluctance to roast thousands of people alive. Then she asks Jon what he thinks she should do.

Jon clearly wants to get one of his friends to call him with a faux emergency so he can makes his excuses and get the fuck out of this hellish Tinder date, but he tells Dany that using her dragons to kill thousands of innocent people will just show she’s the same kind of arsehole as everyone else. Dany buys this from Jon, even though Tyrion essentially just said the same fucking thing.

Back to Winterfell, for my favourite part of the episode. Brienne’s training in the yard with Pod, who is receiving his daily arse-kicking. Is it just me, or is he not improving? Like, at all?

Arya approaches, and I’m geeking out. What can I say – Arya’s filling the void in my heart left by Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Brienne admires what Arya’s packing. Arya asks to train with Brienne, because hey – totes smashed the Hound.

Arya and Brienne have at it while Sansa and Littlefinger watch from the battlements. To Brienne and Pod’s surprise, Arya easily holds her own. In fact, she appears faster than Brienne – though not as powerful.

Realising she’ll need to the arse-kicking up a notch, Brienne knocks Arya off her feet with a kick to the chest. Brienne and Pod are all sheeeeeeeiiit, but Arya jumps to her feet and looks insanely happy to have found a challenge. Sorry Bran – this is my kind of psychopath.

The fight ends in a draw of awesomeness, and Arya and Brienne realise they are each other’s spirit animal. Sansa looks glum and whispers to herself: I’m good at clothes. Arya stink-eyes Littlefinger, and I have a question: Bran’s clearly privy to things that happened in King’s Landing, so why hasn’t he discovered/told anyone that Littlefinger betrayed Ned in the Throne Room? Or will that be the eventual impetus for Arya to add his name to her list?

Back to Dragonstone, and this time it’s Jon and Davos indulging in girl talk. Davos asks Jon what he thinks of Daenerys. Jon acts all coy, even after his Cave of Seduction routine – but tells Davos he thinks Dany has a good heart. Davos has apparently noticed Jon staring at her ‘good heart’. So this means that at some point, maybe during Dragonstone post-work drinks, Jon stared at Dany’s boobs, while Davos stared at Jon staring at Dany’s boobs.

Jon dismisses this with an I-stared-into-the-Night-King’s-eyes excuse. So there’s no time for Dany’s boobs? The producers gave them plenty of air-time last year.

Missandei’s hanging out up ahead. Davos is totally crushing on her again. Is it weird that I find this cute? Missandei asks Jon why his surname is different to his father’s. Jon, for the 467th time, tells everyone he’s a bastard. Naath doesn’t have marriage or bastards. Davos is titillated. Jon wonders why Missandei is serving Dany if she was liberated. Missandei tells them Dany’s the Queen they all chose to follow. You know, back when Dany offered people reasonable choices.

Jon spots a Greyjoy ship approaching. Theon pulls ashore with the other remaining Ironborn. He and Jon have it out. Well, sort of – Jon tells him he’s only letting him live because of what he did for Sansa. Theon’s back to get Daenerys to help him rescue Yara. Jon tells him she’s gone. Theon: ‘Where?’

 Cut to the Lannister forces, still pushing shit towards King’s Landing…and it’s at this point I got nervous. Prior to watching this episode I made the mistake of checking Facebook, saw everyone’s cryptic freak-out posts, and ended up convincing myself some arsehole was going to kill Drogon with Qyburn’s fucking ridiculous wooden crossbow. So whilst I was pretty damn excited about finally seeing Dothraki screamers in action and the Lannisters getting a caning, I was also pretty fucking anxious.

Jaime and Bronn ask Rickon-Dickon about his first battle experience. Rickon-Dickon seems a lot nicer than his Dad; I hope he lives.

Bronn hears the Dothraki horde and alerts Jaime. The Dothraki appear on the horizon, and everyone pretty much shits themselves. Personally, I’m grabbing for the popcorn. What was it Robert Baratheon said back in season one? Only a fool would meet the Dothraki in an open field. Jaime: SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.

Daenerys descends from the clouds on Drogon and torches the Lannister front line. The Dothraki break through and the slaughter begins, while Drogon destroys the food supplies taken from Highgarden – turning Lannister soldiers to ash in the process.

It’s pretty gruesome, and as with nearly every great battle on Game of Thrones (with the main exception being Battle of the Bastards) I’m left appalled by my own fickle loyalties. I’ve always been Team Targaryen and am irrationally invested in the wellbeing of the dragons, but this is a holocaust.

Tyrion seems to reach the same conclusion when he comes upon the scene. His father’s army is in chaos, men are dying agonizing deaths, his brother is in the midst of it – and he’s responsible. Where will Tyrion’s loyalties go from here?

Jaime sets his archers to the task of taking down Drogon. Drogon proves impervious to tiny wooden arrows, because duh – dragon. Which means it’s time to crack open the big guns. And by big guns, I mean one gun, And by one gun, I mean creaking, shitty crossbow on a wooden platform.

Look, I’ve always been ambivalent about Bronn. He’s comic relief at least. But when he starts shooting at Drogon, I want him melted like a birthday candle.

On his second attempt Bronn pierces Drogon through the wing, and Drogon and Dany fall from the sky. Drogon pulls up though; right in front of Bronn and the crossbow, and – thank fuck, because it was an illogical piece of shit – he torches the whole thing. Did Qyburn make back ups?

Dany jumps off to pull the bolt from Drogon’s torso. Jaime spots his opportunity to commit suicide and gallops toward the dragon.

This all got a bit contentious in my house, because my husband has an enormous man-crush on Jaime Lannister. So whenever we play ‘Who Would Win’ (i.e. who would win out of the Hound VS Khal Drogo? Who would win out of Barristan Selmy VS Brienne of Tarth?), and one of the opponents is Jaime Lannister, he’s always adamant that (two-handed) Jaime would best pretty much anyone. It’s cute.

But really? Go towards the dragon? My husband reckons it proves he’s a true knight of valour. Personally I agree with Tyrion: you fucking idiot.

Nonetheless, Jaime gallops towards Dany and Drogon. Drogon sees him coming and gets ready for a barbecue – but at the last minute, Bronn (I think?) knocks Jaime out of the way, and into the water…where he sinks straight to the bottom. I’m filled with relief – don’t get me wrong, I like Jaime’s character – but I was just glad no fictional CGI dragons were killed in the making of this episode. I’m a sick, sick woman.

Is this the last we’ll see of Jaime Lannister? No chance. He’s got a destiny to fulfill and redemption to find. Besides – Bronn has to fish him out if he wants that fucking castle.

Next week: Dany’s losing touch with her humanity, Tyrion must find a way to make her listen, Bran’s seen the Night King heading for Eastwatch, and Jon meets Drogon up close!

 

 

 

 

 

Game of Thrones S703: ‘The Queen’s Justice’ Recap

We open on Jon Snow and Ser Davos arriving at Dragonstone. Clearly they bypassed the King’s Road and jumped on Westeros’ new Shinkansen. One thing you’ve gotta say for Queen Cersei; she doesn’t skimp on transport infrastructure.

Jon and Tyrion greet each other with man-affection. Their bond as mutual outcasts was believable and endearing back in season one, and they’re even cuter together now (I suppose it helps that Jon’s not an emo little Pollyanna anymore).

Ser Davos makes a weird pass at Missandei before commenting to Jon that ‘Dragonstone’ has changed. Which is seems unreasonably nostalgic to me; last time he was here people were being burnt alive every second day and Stannis was going to have him executed.

Tyrion and Jon compare notes; Tyrion didn’t consummate his sham marriage to Sansa. Jon didn’t ask. Tyrion believes she’s smarter than she lets on; Jon’s catching on to this himself (but clearly not fast enough). Jon’s men think he’s crazy for coming here, and Tyrion agrees – Stark men don’t fare well when they go South. Jon points out (as he does…often) that he’s not a Stark. Drogon (at least I think it was Drogon) chooses this moment for a fly-by and takes a large foreshadowing dump on Jon’s head. Next episode: Rhaegal humps Jon’s leg until he gets the picture: You’re a WIZARD, Harry Targaryen, Jon!

Melisandre’s scoping out Jon’s arrival from atop a cliff when Vary’s rocks up for one of his passive aggressive I-want-you-to-fuck-off-now chats. Melisandre makes the book diehards lose their minds by referring to Jon and Daenerys as ice and fire respectively, then checkmates Varys with her knowledge of his impending death. Boo-ya, Spider!

Now for the main event; the much-anticipated meeting of Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow. Presumably thousands of Jon/Dany shippers are about to die of a nerdal-lobe embolism.

The scene had a shit-ton of dialogue, so for the sake of brevity I’ve paraphrased:

Dany: Good trip, MY LORD?

Jon: We tore a hole in the fabric of space and time to get here between episodes.

Davos: His name is YOUR GRACE.

Dany: Nope. Solemn-vow-made-in-perpetuity, etc.

Jon: Your Dad burnt my family alive.

Dany: Sorry. BEND THE KNEE.

Jon: No…because Night King.

Dany: WTF?

Jon: Army of the Dead.

Dany (to Tyrion): Man-bun’s lost it.

Jon: NIGHT KIIIIIIIINNNNG!

I wish I could include Dany’s whole self-belief speech, because Emilia Clarke fucking rocked it. I got goosebumps and briefly considered a silver rinse. But alas, the abbreviated version:

Dany: I was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms AND I WILL, motherfucker!

Jon: Still no.

Dany: Fine. You’re screwed. Now how about a bath and some supper?

Jon: Am I your sex-slave?

Dany: Not yet.

We cut to see Theon being fished out of the ocean, while in King’s Landing Euron presents Cersei with her gift: Ellaria Sand and the third-least-annoying sand snake.

Cersei promises to reward Euron with her hand in marriage once the war is won, then initiates her revenge on Ellaria. I have to say, I found her methods…dare I say it…somewhat reasonable? Ellaria did kill her daughter in cold blood. Or maybe I’m now desensitized to murderous revenge if it doesn’t involve someone’s head’s popping like a balloon or an entire building being flattened. Either way, revenge fills Cersei with the desire to give her brother a blow-job.

So she does.

Mycroft from Sherlock shows up the next morning; the Iron Bank of Bravos is calling in its debts. Cersei promises to repay the Crown’s debts in full within a fortnight. Why couldn’t Benedict Cumberbatch play Euron? Is it too late? Can we petition?

Back on Dragonstone, Jon and Tyrion find themselves brooding on the same cliff top. Disappointingly, Tyrion doesn’t piss off the edge. Jon whines. Tyrion offers his help. Cut to…

Tyrion telling Daenerys Jon wants to mine dragonglass, and encouraging her to take a small step towards making a new ally by agreeing. It’s all very Much Ado About Nothing, especially when Beatrice and Benedick Daenerys and Jon hash it out at sunset while the dragons frolic in sky above. I can almost hear ‘Tale as Old as Time’ tinkling in the background.

To Winterfell, where food’s running out. Oh, and Sansa’s an expert in battle armor now. How did these seasoned commanders survive and succeed in countless military operations without her?

Littlefinger makes a confusing speech about fighting every battle in your mind before it happens and imagining every possibility so that no matter what happens you aren’t surprised. Or something. I’m not sure if he’s misquoting The Art of War or it’s just his most elaborate pickup ploy yet.

Then Bran’s home…and creepy as fuck. Naturally he and Sansa catch up while sitting out in the freezing snow, where he tells Sansa he’s the Three-Eyed-Raven now. Like the rest of us, Sansa doesn’t have any fucking idea what that means.

Bran ups the creep-factor by impassively describing her horrendous wedding night, as if he’d been there watching the whole thing. Sansa: Yeah….I’ve got…a thing…I have to go do. Now. KTHXBYE.

To Oldtown, and there’s no sign of fecal matter, pus or greyscale; Archmaester Slughorn examines Jorah’s recently de-scaled torso before giving him a clean bill of health. Jorah tells Sam he’s heading off to find his beloved Khaleesi. Yikes…you have a traumatic return to the friend zone in store, dude: Khaleesi has a new love interest, and he’s wearing your family’s heirloom sword.

Back on Dragonstone, Daenerys and her remaining advisors discuss their next move. Dany wants to jump on Drogon, track down Euron’s fleet and fry them. I vote yes! But no – Tyrion says she’s too important. Despite the loss of Yara’s fleet and the Dornish, they decide to plough ahead with their plans for the Unsullied to take the ‘impregnable’ Casterly Rock.

Tyrion narrates the attack in real time. The Unsullied enter the Rock via Tyrion’s secret sewer entrance, and quickly overcome the soldiers to take the castle. It’s all a bit breezy – I kinda thought the battle of Casterly Rock would be a bigger deal…and it turns out that’s the point. As Euron’s fleet arrives to destroy the Unsullied’s ships, Grey Worm realises it was a setup – where are the rest of the Lannister forces?

They’re prancing around to The Rains of Castamere, which I’ve had stuck in my head ever since watching this episode. Have you ever sat in a work meeting with The Rains of Castamere running on a mental loop? It makes everything much more sinister.

Jaime leads the Lannister army to Highgarden, where they make short work of the Tyrell army and take the castle.

Jaime arrives for a pre-execution debrief with the Queen of Thorns. They discuss Joffrey’s sword and the ludicrous name he gave it, ‘Widow’s Wail’. Possibly my favourite line in Game of Thrones history, delivered with glorious timing and elegance by Diana Rigg: ‘He really was a cunt, wasn’t he?’

Olenna points out that Cersei’s a monster and will be the death of him. Jaime: Probably…but BLOW JOBS! He’s too far gone to care. Well, for now. I’m still predicting some Valonqar action later this season.

Jaime’s forgone Cersei’s gruesome execution preferences in favour of poison. Olenna makes sure she gulps it all down before claiming the ultimate last word by finally confessing to Joffrey’s murder. The kicker:

‘Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me’

Oh, Olenna. Forget Dany and Cersei; you’re the damn queen of our hearts.

Next week: Dany’s losing, the Lannisters haul the spoils from Highgarden, Arya contemplates Winterfell, and DROGON!!!

One Year of Motherhood: A Survival Story

My clever, cheeky, happy, determined little girl turned one recently.

We celebrated with a party, presents, cake, champagne, and a mountain of chicken wings my poor husband cooked on the barbecue while standing out in the rain (our oven conveniently blew up two days beforehand).

In the weeks leading up to the party I made ‘practise’ cakes, sourced my girl a special birthday outfit (complete with a pair of highly practical cowbaby boots), ordered her gift from us (a miniature red racing car…so far she’s chewed on the steering wheel) and loaded up on so many fuzzy pink decorations our house looked as if a pink muppet had broken in and blown itself up.

Admittedly we (I) went a little overboard, as was apparent when my sister found me in the kitchen the night before the party, colour-coding the Smarties for the cake edging.

But it was important to me make a big deal out of my girl’s first birthday. First and foremost because she’s gorgeous and deserves to have a fuss made over her, but also because – holy shit – we made it.

We survived the first year of parenthood.

I know. That sentence seems a little melodramatic….unless you’re currently white-knuckling it through your very own first year of parenthood, in which case you’re thinking ‘There’s a remote fucking chance we’ll survive this? Our bodies won’t finally pack it in from relentless exhaustion and constantly rocking 3-10 kilos of merciless mini-human whilst singing ‘5 Little Ducks’ at the recommended sleep-inducing decibel, during the ideal sleep window?!’

Before your firstborn actually arrives, the idea of new parenthood equating to a 127-Hours-esqe survival slog is just another one of those things people casually suggest to you. Ooooh, buckle up! Everything’s about to change! Sleep when they sleep! And remember, during those first few months you’ll just be in survival mode!

And you nod and smile and think longingly about the ‘emergency’ croissant in your handbag.

But they mean what they say, and of course you think you know what they mean when they say it. But really, your concept of the oncoming shitstorm is abstract.

Your understanding of true, unadulterated sleep deprivation – that bone-deep, nausea-inducing, eye-burning, hallucinogenic strain of soul-sapping exhaustion reserved for new parents – is abstract.

Your grasp of the grim hell that is a breast pump accompanied by a three-hourly pump-feed-pump-feed-pump-feed-cycle is abstract.

The prospect of being hand-milked at 3am by a sausage-fingered German midwife (who presumably grew up on a Bavarian dairy farm given her brutal dexterity) when your milk hasn’t really come in yet and you haven’t had more than 40 minutes sleep since giving birth two days ago? Abstract.

And that psychological avalanche of terror that hits when you leave the highly-equipped medical facility and drive home (in a MOVING CAR! Through MOVING TRAFFIC!!!) with your spindly new mini-human, and realise that you have to figure shit out now because her life depends upon it? Yeah. Inconceivable.

Maybe some people breeze through this stuff before lighting a kale-scented candle and slow-cooking some lamb shanks, but personally I had to crack into the gift hamper champagne on our first day solo.

I don’t know. Has anyone ever arrived home with their firstborn without their knees shaking as the tectonic plates of their life shift irrevocably?

As a brand-new mum, you look down at your baby and the love you feel threatens to swallow you whole. All the clichés are true – it’s that powerful. But when you look around, everything’s different.

Your old routines are gone. Your daily rhythms have changed. The body you inhabit is alien to you, and possibly stitched up like a Sherrin ball. And, for a while at least, the freedom you once had is utterly out of reach.

Despite all the books I devoured and all the questions I asked friends and all the paraphernalia I bought in preparation and all the lists I made to get myself organised, I wasn’t anything close to prepared for it. Emotionally prepared, I mean.

I found new parenthood confronting, terrifying, brutal, relentless and utterly, utterly alien. I felt as if I’d been completely extracted from my old life – from the world, in fact – like a pulled tooth.

Clearly this was a severe reaction, and there were other factors involved (more on that to come), but during those first few months after giving birth, I had to fight the urge to run up to pregnant women on the street and attempt to prepare them for what was coming:

GO TO BED! RIGHT NOW! Lie there and do nothing for several hours! Then read an entire book in one sitting before showering for 40 minutes! Then dress up in clean (CLEAN!!) clothes and go out to dinner – somewhere as fucking far away from your house as you can geographically manage!

Afterwards, go to the movies and shovel popcorn in your mouth using both hands (SIMULTANEOUSLY!) and marvel at the fact that you don’t have to dig an angry, engorged breast out of your shirt at ANY POINT IN TIME. Good God, take yourself to the beach and PACK NOTHING!!!! NOOOTHIIIIIINNNNNNG!!!

This was internal-me whenever I saw a pregnant woman:

sc-gif-2Thankfully I curbed that lunatic impulse. Because you know what?

No one can tell you. No one can prepare you. And most sane people don’t want to frighten the maternity pants off you by trying.

I get that now.

But all the same, as I ate a piece of my daughter’s double-buttercream-iced, colour-coded birthday cake, I considered what one-year-on me could hypothetically tell 8-months-pregnant me.

What advice would I impart to my old self, the me that existed before that stormy June evening when my waters broke a month early but I refused to leave the house until our ancient printer reluctantly crapped out my (utterly irrelevant) birth plan?

I suppose I could tell her this:

Stop watching ‘One Born Every Minute’ and PACK. YOUR FUCKING. HOSPITAL BAG. Right now. Oh, and those two novels you’re planning on packing for the ‘downtime’ you’ll have between contractions? Yeah, you can leave those. Use the free space to pack more food; RPA is apparently where uneaten plane food goes to die.

Midwives. Many are human angels, but some are power-tripping ghouls who prey on women at their most vulnerable.

You’ll meet plenty of the former, but unfortunately a few of the latter too. One will delight in casually suggesting you’ll kill your baby girl unless you do things her way (which also happens to contradict the instructions the NICU midwives give you).

You’ll never regret kicking her out of your hospital room. Not for a single second.

Napisan Vanish. The pink spray bottle. Buy 1000 fucking units of it right now (along with Baby Love nappies…ditch the Huggies).

Your gal is a poop-up-the-backer for the first three months of her life and a spewer for the first seven. Thus Vanish Spray will be liquid gold in your household, second only to breastmilk – which you’ll spend much of your time harvesting until your girl is able to latch. Often while crying, as you peer anxiously at the ml measurements on the bottle and desperately hope you’ll have enough for her next feed.

Which brings me to that dreaded breast pump. Let me tell you a glorious secret: one day you’re going to pack that groaning, mastitis-inducing mechanical little fuckwit up, and shove it into storage whilst giggling like a Disney witch. It won’t forever be attached to you, despite what you might think in those first months.

I know you’re not awesome at group socialising (or, you know…socialising), but mothers’ group doesn’t completely suck. It actually does help to talk to other women wrangling the same cluster fuck as you at any given time. Sleep regressions, Wonder Weeks, bleeding nipples, blebs, bottle-refusal, mastitis, reflux, struggling with weight gain (baby’s), struggling with weight loss (yours), the infinite unfairness of your husband having no boobs and thus being able to drink whenever he wants.

Basically, mothers’ group is all about having someone to sit next to on a burning, runaway rollercoaster.

Breastfeeding. Hell, why not. Let’s crack open that can of worms with a rusty axe.

You’ll eventually be very proud of your breastfeeding efforts. Not because you’re a smug breastapo member who thinks they’re better than formula-feeding mums, but because of what it will cost you to do it.

The first few months (fine…the first 6 months) will be invariably excruciating.

I’m talking cracked nipples, blebs, constant over-supply, 8-freaking-rounds of mastitis, and once your daughter’s teeth come through – bites. No, that’s not in the brochure.

Despite what people will tell you, it doesn’t hurt because your nipples are too small, your daughter’s mouths is too small, your let-down is too forceful, you aren’t feeding her enough, you’re feeding her too much, you’re feeding her too often, you’re feeding her for too long, you aren’t using the right hold, you’re using cream on your nipples, you aren’t using enough cream on your nipples, you aren’t ‘airing’ your nipples, etcetera etcetera etcetera.

Allow me to call bullshit on all of this for you: it hurts until it doesn’t hurt anymore.

That’s it. That’s the raw (red raw) breastfeeding deal. It’s like your boobs just have to undergo their own (long) Rocky training montage to toughen up until they can handle it.

The silver lining to all of this is that your beautiful girl will thrive on it, and at around the 7-month mark it will become as painless as breathing. You’ll continue to breastfeed her until she’s 14 months old and decides she’s done.

But.

Knowing what I know now, I wish I could convince you not to agonise over it so damn much.

I wish I could make you understand that an occasional bottle of infant formula is not the IQ-evaporating, crystal meth gateway some would have you believe.

It’s perfectly okay for your husband to give your daughter a bottle of it when the pressure and the exhaustion leave you with nothing left in the tank. Like when you’re crying with desperation over only being able to pump 30mls, or when you’d give anything for three consecutive hours of sleep.

I wish I could convey to you that – for some – the collective physical and emotional toll of breastfeeding can sometimes outweigh the benefits. And that’s a balance that every mum should feel empowered to decide for herself. It’s okay to call time if you need to – and you aren’t a failure if you do.

That’s not the worst of it though.

The same constant hormonal rollercoaster that makes breastfeeding possible will be a big factor in the postnatal depression you’ll be diagnosed with at three months postpartum (but you’ll know in your gut that something isn’t right way before then).

Shitty bomb to drop. Sorry. But I can also tell you this: you’re going to beat it.

Exactly how you’ll manage that is a post all of its own, but I can tell you it won’t be easy. It won’t be easy on you and it won’t be easy on your incredible husband, who is unfortunate enough to be in the passenger’s seat on this particular journey through hell – yet somehow he will never fail to hold you and tell you it’s going to be okay.

Postnatal depression is a thief; it will steal from both of you. It will steal joy and focus and time that should have been yours to spend just basking in your beautiful daughter, breathing her in.

Getting it on the ropes will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. And the insidious, relentless nature of this beast demands you do it again, and again, and again. You have to beat it back, every damn day, until somewhere along the way – you land a knockout punch.

There’ll be days where you’re convinced things are never going to be okay again. I wish you didn’t have to live through those days believing that, because it’s not true. Postnatal depression is a thief and a liar.

Things are going to be more than okay.

You’re going to be happy again. You’re going to see the world in colour again. You’re going to carve slices of your life back and stitch yourself together, slowly, slowly.

You’re going to run so hard and for so long that you break a toe. You’re going to box yourself stupid. You’re going to flood your body with endorphins and starve the depression by nurturing and strengthening yourself, from the outside in.

Some days you’ll feel yourself drowning in black despair so thick and sticky you can barely breathe. Wade through it. Your toes will touch the bottom soon.

One day, this feeling – this illness – will be nothing but a blighted memory. A monster defanged. A nightmare you’ve woken up from. At most, a horrid acquaintance you brush past on occasion.

But it will no longer consume your reality.

You know what? All of this will come regardless. There’s no preparing yourself; parenthood and whatever comes with it is a learn-on the-fly, baptism-of-fire, thrown-in-the-deep-end, cut-your-own-hand-off gig.

You have to live through this shit to comprehend it; that’s just how it works.

So let me tell you just one thing instead. The best thing ever:

You’re going to meet your little girl soon. She’s incredible.

You’ll take one look at her, bloody and squalling as the obstetrician holds her in the air, and you’ll think: It’s you. Of course it’s you. I’d know that face anywhere.

Your love for her will burn through you until what was tough and unyielding is gone. Until that thick skin you spent years forming is torn away, and your heart feels paper-thin.

This love won’t make you a selfless saint or wipe you of everything you were or everything you previously loved; you aren’t a reformatted hard drive, for fuck’s sake. But it will recalibrate your universe.

It will take you a long time to get used to this recalibrated, vulnerable you. But you will. And you’ll reconstruct yourself around her, with stronger foundations this time – and a bigger heart.

Motherhood burns you down, but it rebuilds you too.

Game of Thrones S610: ‘The Winds of Winter’ Recap

It’s D-day in King’s Landing, and the big players are getting ready for the trial of the century. The opening scenes are almost entirely silent, except for the ominous clanging of the Sept’s bell…which is clearly tolling for a truckload of people given it’s the finale and the death count in King’s Landing has been uncharacteristically subdued this year.

Cersei is decked out in a wicked new outfit from ASOS. It’s dress-military meets wicked stepmother meets androgynous Batman.

Tommen’s being dressed by an attendant but insists upon trying to tie his own shoelaces.

Margaery’s having her hair done, but you can tell she’s not allowed to use product anymore – it’s apparently on the Faith Militant’s Helpful List of Sinful Household Items. Even the High Sparrow is putting his good Sunday rags on. Everyone’s resplendent in their finery.

New music from Ramin Djawadi kicks in as the doors to the Sept of Baelor open and the people of the court arrive. It’s sparse and haunting and becomes more and more unsettling as these scenes play out; your subconscious discomfort turns to conscious dread (or morbid anticipation) as you realise it’s winding up to something.

Broken Loras shudders in his cell, waiting for his haircut at Stylz by Sparrowz.

People continue filtering into the Sept. The High Sparrow arrives looking pious and pleased with himself.

Post-coital Pycelle puts on his chains and glances in the mirror; yup, totally nailing the pedo-priest chic. He exits his chambers but is stopped by one of Qyburn’s little birds, who whispers something in his ear. Just don’t sit on his lap, kid.

Loras is led into the Sept. He confesses to all charges and asks to become a servant of the seven. Okay, Loras – but you gotta get the gang’s tattoo. The sparrows carve a seven-pointed star into his forehead.

Cersei’s chambers, and she’s ready to go. Or is she? Elsewhere, Tommen finally rises from his chair only to find Frankenmountain guarding the door. Sorry, Tommen…playgroup’s cancelled today.

Loras drips his forehead all over the Sept floor. Margaery is pissed at the High Sparrow for mutilating him. The High Sparrow reminds her that Loras will be free to go once Cersei’s trial is over. Margaery, hyper-aware of Cersei’s cunning, is starting to smell a rat; where is the Queen Mother? The High Sparrow sends Lancel to fetch her.

Cersei pours herself a leisurely glass of wine as if she has all the time in the world.

Lancel exits the Sept and spots one of Qyburn’s little birds looking sketchy. The kid darts off and Lancel follows him into the tunnels beneath the city.

Grand Maester Pycelle is led into Qyburns chamber, where Qyburn is waiting for him. Together they’re like Creepy & Creepier. Pycelle pompously asks where the king is, and Qyburn apologises in advance for what is about to happen. A little bird appears with a dagger and creepy child-singing (is there any other kind?) joins the haunting piano melody.

Lancel continues chasing his little bird down dark corridors.

More little birds appear in Qyburn’s chamber. Someone left the child-lock off the sharps drawer; they’re all wielding knives and looking at Pycelle like he’s a giant sugared plum. Qyburn leaks a spoiler to Pycelle: you’re totes going to die in here, pedo-bear. Soz.

The children fall upon Pycelle. He spray-vomits his own blood as they stab him senseless. It looks like they’re killing the world’s dodgiest Santa.

Chaotic cello kicks in: Cersei’s hour cometh.

Lancel searches the tunnels beneath the Sept, seemingly oblivious to the countless drums of highly-fucking-flammable liquid surrounding him. I hope those robes aren’t polyester, Lancel. Actually, I hope they are. The little kid stabs him and he collapses to the ground. Now we hear added organ music, and you know nothing good can accompany that.

 Margaery’s spidey sense is in overdrive now. Oh, Margaery. You’re shrewd and clever and I’ll miss you.

Lancel spots flames burning up ahead. Alas, he’s unable to walk – getting stabbed in Kings Landing actually has consequences – so he drags himself forward Terminator-2-style to investigate.

Margaery’s instincts are skyrocketing into the red zone. RUN! Waaaaaah you’re the only person left in King’s Landing that I like.

Lancel drags himself towards the flames, glancing at the barrels that line the walls either side of him. They’re leaking wildfire. Hurry, fundamentalist himbo!

Margaery finally follows her gut and tells the High Sparrow there’s something wrong. He tries to fob her off, so Margaery walks him through the logic of just how completely fucked they are: Cersei knows that blowing off her own trial will likely result in her head permanently departing her shoulders, but has chosen to stay away anyhow. Conclusion: it’s time to haul arse out of there.

Lancel gets close enough to see what’s ahead: candles burning down towards pools of wildfire. The penny drops and he rushes to put out the flames before the radioactive Mountain Dew ignites.

Margaery tries to evacuate everyone, but the Faith Militant bar the doors.

Lancel: I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…ah fuck.

There’s a stampede in the Sept as the crowd makes for the exits. The High Sparrow is starting to look unsure of himself; could Cersei really be a step ahead this time? Margaery looks back, her eyes imploring him to let them go.

Too late.

The wildfire ignites. Lancel’s eyes Hulk out before he’s obliterated by a green firestorm. It rips through the tunnels towards the Sept. Inside the Sept, the crowd hears a monstrous rumble. Everyone looks down at the floor, which shakes beneath their feet. A split second later the green inferno erupts from below, consuming everyone and everything in its path. Goodbye, Margaery. You were awesome to the end.

The Sept explodes. From her vantage point in the Red Keep, Cersei admires her handiwork and sips her wine. She likes to pair her mass-killings with a robust Cabernet Sauvignon, peppery on the nose with herbaceous undertones.

But there’s one more debt to repay. Cersei pours wine in Septa Unella’s face and urges her to confess. Septa Unella informs her that she’s ready to die. Cersei smirks at that idea, and introduces her to Frankenmountain instead. Septa Unella screams and Cersei gets the last word; it’s shame…shame…shame.

Tommen gazes at the burning remnants of the Sept. His attendant tells him he’s very sorry and leaves the room. Having lost his beloved Margaery and her vagina, and facing the very real prospect of his narcissistic smother-mother murdering all his possible future girlfriends, Tommen removes his crown and throws himself out the window.

The Twins. Walder frey is holding a feast in his hall to celebrate the Frey/Lannister alliance. Menulog does not recommend eating here.

An attractive serving girl gives Jaime the eye, and Bronn bitches about being average-looking wingman. Jaime sets him up with two willing wenches, and Walder Frey sits himself down for some quality time with the Kingslayer. No one plays lewd, creepy uncle like David Bradley… just seeing him onscreen makes me want to put more clothes on.

Walder boasts about his victories over his enemies and implies that he and Jaime are kingslayer peas in a pod. Jaime is appalled at the comparison and questions why the Lannisters even need the Freys when they have to ride North to help every time they lose a castle.

Back in King’s Landing, dead Tommen is wearing his prophesied golden shroud. Have you seen the King’s Landing memes? Way too soon, but I do love a good pun.

Cersei stares at Tommens dead body, then orders Qyburn to burn it and bury his ashes where the Sept once stood so he can be with his grandfather and siblings. And with that, Cersei has no further use for her single redemptive feature: love for her children and maternal desire to protect them. Her journey to the dark side is complete. Where to from here?

Sam, Gilly and Little Sam arrive in Oldtown, where they see a cloud of white ravens flying from the Citadel. Winter is here.

Inside the Citadel Sam braves some frosty, sexist customer service before being allowed to enter Sam-heaven: a vast library. It’s cool but I hope they have liability insurance…those shelves and ladders are a fucking hazard.

One of the Citadel’s white ravens makes it’s way to Winterfell, where Jon is bitching to Melisandre about how he was never allowed to sit up the front during the gluttonous feasts his wealthy family held in their spacious castle. Melisandre: Try being a slave, fuckhead.

Ser Davos enters and throws Melisandre the charred remains of Princess Shireen’s stag carving. Melisandre fumbles it and looks aghast. Ser Davos, close to tears, demands she tell Jon what she did.

Melisandre confesses to burning Shireen at the stake, but says they had to; the army was trapped and the horses were dying – it was the only way. Ser Davos – understandable – loses his shit. Liam Cunningham is fucking incredible in this scene. “I loved that girl. Like she was my own. She was good, she was kind, and you killed her”. It’s gutting.

Ser Davos asks Jon if he can kill her now, please. Jon sends her South instead, but says he’ll hang her if she ever returns.

Jon watches Melisandre’s departure from the battlements of Winterfell. Sansa joins him. They to and fro about who should sleep in the Lord’s chamber: you take it…no YOU take it… no, YOU. It’s very different to how my brother and I used to converse growing up: *Punch* Stop hitting yourself…. *Punch* No, YOU stop hitting yourself…*Punch* No, YOU stop hitting yourself…

Sansa apologises for being cagey about the Knights of the Vale, but offers no explanation about it. Jon asks if she trusts Lord Baelish, and Sansa replies that only a fool would trust Littlefinger. Only a fool listens to his slimey word-poison too, Sansa.

Jon says they need to trust each other, and kisses her on the forehead. Aw. Sansa tells him that a white raven arrived form the Citadel; winter is here.

Ah, fuck. Dorne.

No, wait…Olenna Tyrell is here to save the day! She verbally spays the Sand Snakes. Fingers crossed not one of them utters another word ever, ever again.

The grown women speak. Ellaria proposes an alliance between the Tyrells and Dorne in order to survive. Olenna – dressed in her mourning blacks – no longer cares about survival now her family has been wiped out and House Tyrell is all but dead. Ellaria offers vengeance instead, and rings a bell. Varys appears and dramatically announces: FIRE AND BLOOD. REDRUUUUUUUUUM! Awesome, but answering to a bell is totally undignified, dude.

Meereen…FOR THE LAST TIME EVER, WHOOOOP! Daenerys informs Daario that he’s not invited to the Westeros Party. He’s going to stay here and take care of the people of Meereen. Daario echos my sentiments of the past several years: fuck the people of Meereen.

Dany cuts to the chase: when she gets to Westeros, she’ll need to be single so she’s free to marry her nephew Jon Snow (Oh, come on – it’s totally going to be Jon. Who else is left in terms of eligible highborn bachelors? She’s not going to marry Jaime, everyone else is dead, and Targaryens prefer to marry Targaryens. Ice and FIRE! Ice and FIRE!)

Sorry. Got carried away. Sadface Daario tells Dany he was always in this for her – he loves her and he knows he makes her happy. Dany: No, really…you’re not coming. Sorry, dude. Welcome to the friend-zone you gave Jorah so much shit about.

Tyrion waits in the throne room. He consoles Dany with the fact that sailing for Westeros IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING. I know, Tyrion. We’re leaving Meereen. My mental bags have been packed for 2 years, so let’s motor.

Dinklage revels in the only decent writing he’s had to work with all year in this scene: “Are you afraid? Good. You’re in the great game now, and the great game is terrifying”.  He tells Daenerys that, despite all his past cynicism, he believes in her. She rewards his devotion by giving him a Hand pin and naming him Hand of the Queen. His overwhelmed reaction is Dinklage at his emotional best – finally someone sees and judges Tyrion for his merits rather than his stature, which makes Daenerys the polar opposite of his father.

Back at the Twins, Walder Frey is dining alone in his hall. Mmmm…can I smell delicious impending vengeance?

Attractive serving girl arrives with pie. Walder bitches about his sons being late for dinner. Attractive serving girl says they’re already here, my lord. HERE. IN THE PIE, CREEPO. Walder lifts the pastry and finds a finger. It’s an Australian service station pie!

Attractive serving girl reveals herself as Arya Stark and gleefully cuts Walder’s throat. Gruesome revenge served cold and encased in pastry: 10/10.

Winterfell heart tree, where Littlefinger sidles up to Sansa, leaving a trail of slime behind him. He shares his deepest desire with Sansa: him sitting on the Iron Throne with her by his side. Oh…great. As far as propositions go that’s about as enticing as accompanying your husband to the dirt track to watch while he does race laps in a V8 Commodore for 4 hours.

Littlefinger dives in for a pash, which Sansa gracefully dodges. He then tells her she’s the future of House Stark, not Jon. PUT DOWN THE SNAKE, SANSA.

Further North, Uncle Benjen drops off Bran and Meera – he can’t go beyond the Wall because of the spells woven into the ice. His face is extra-peely this week. He pulls Bran off the horse and dumps him under a tree. KTHXBYE.

Bran taps into the Weirwood, and we’re back at the Tower of Joy. FINALLY.

Young Ned mounts the stairs to the Tower and finds his sister Lyanna lying in what looks like a horrific crime scene. Nope, just childbirth. Lyanna knows she’s dying and makes Ned promise to protect her newborn son. Seriously, there’s blood fucking everywhere. Did Jon explode from her stomach Alien-style?

Ned cradles the baby, and we get a close up of his baby browns, which are hilariously rolling in different directions. R + L = J? Please wait a moment while we confirm your equation.

CONFIRMED! Cut to Rhaegar and Lyanna’s son Jon Snow Targaryen, all grown up and about to be crowned the King in the North.

Lord Royce, the wildlings and the great Northern Lords have gathered at Winterfell to argue amongst themselves.  Lyanna Mormont takes charge: YOU ALL REFUSED THE CALL, BITCHES. But House Mormont remembers, and knows no king but the King in the North – whose name is Stark. Lyanna proclaims Jon her king, from this day forward until his last day.

The other Lords follow suit, drawing their swords and chanting: THE KING IN THE NORTH, THE KING IN THE NORTH, THE KING IN THE NORTH. I’m slightly uneasy given that the last time I heard this I was watching Grey Wind’s head bob about on Robb Stark’s shoulders, but yay Jon!

Jon looks down at Sansa. She smiles. Jon rises from his chair and inhales the sweet incense of manifest destiny. Sansa keeps smiling until she notices Littlefinger giving her too-bad eyes. Shut up, Littlefinger.

Jaime arrives back in King’s Landing just in time for Cersei’s coronation. The Rains of Castamere plays as she enters the throne room. Jaime watches on in horror as she mounts the stairs to the Iron Throne. Qyburn places a crown upon her head, and I swear they’ve based the design on a Lion King promotional poster.

Qyburn proclaims her Queen Cersei, First of Her Name, Mad Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and Donald Trump of the Realm. Kill her, Jaime. And soon…there’s plenty of wildfire still lying around.

Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys’ fleet finally sets sail for Westeros. Her dragons fly overhead, the Dothraki look seasick, and at the head of the armada, Dany stands with Tyrion, Missandei and Varys by her side. Hang on…Varys? Is he a fucking Time Lord?

Next week: Nothing. Nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing. Monday nights are now as barren and cold as the Land of Always Winter. I suggest bingeing on wine and hotdogs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game of Thrones S609 Recap

Let me preface by saying that I could use a good cup of tea with a double-vodka chaser, an entire pack of chewable antacids and perhaps a heart transplant, because mine exploded from stress somewhere between Jon galloping for Rickon and the Knights of the Vale arriving à la Riders of Rohan. And maybe a change of pants. Jesus Christ.

We open on the twisting cogs and ropes of a trebuchet as a projectile is loaded, set on fire and catapulted through the sky towards the Great Pyramid of Meereen. Note: the terrible wigs, off-screen action and sparse extras from this season’s previous episodes make much more sense as this one progresses – it’s clearly gobbled up 90% of the allocated season 6 budget. HBO wants Emmys, dammit!

Inside the Great Pyramid, Daenerys is brooding and Tyrion is jumpy. In between explosions Tyrion explains that the attack indicates progress; the wise masters know that a thriving city free of slavery is bad for business.

Dany concurs, and asks: ‘Shall we begin?’. She intends to kill the masters, set their ships afire, kill every last one of their soldiers and return their cities to the dirt. Maybe lay off the roids for a bit, Dany.

Tyrion disapproves and compares her approach with her father’s plans to nuke King’s Landing with wildfire that time. He then considerately provides information as to where the caches of wildfire are, including UNDER THE SEPT OF BAELOR, wink wink! There’s going to be a royal barbecue next week, and Cersei’s dishing up fried sparrow.

Right now, however, Tyrion would like to try an alternative approach.

Cut to Dany, Tyrion, Grey Worm and Missandei meeting with the Three Wise Masters outside Meereen. The masters believe they’re there to accept Dany’s surrender. They’re actually there to completely shit themselves when Drogon appears (bigger than ever, I might add), lands at Dany’s side and totes puts his wing out in a ‘Climb up, little lady’ gesture. Drogon so smooth.

Dany climbs aboard Drogon and heads for the ships in the bay. Rhaegal and Viserion burst through the wall of their pyramid prison and join them.  As the dragons head for the water, we pan down to outside the city walls where the Sons of the Harpy are having another stab-fest. I’m not sure what these people were even doing out there, logically speaking, but I’m too pleasantly distracted by the spectacle of thousands of Dothraki screamers – led by Daario Naharis – descending upon them to care. If you have to choose between logic and Dothraki screamers, you choose Dothraki screamers – shithouse wigs and all.

Back to the bay, where Dany chooses one lucky ship to receive the dracarys treatment. Ship burny. Men screamy. Dragons happy…I guess a ship is kind of like the dragon version of a Kong.

Tyrion thanks the Three Wise Masters for the armada and explains that one of them must die for breaking the pact they agreed to. Two of them volunteer the lower-born master. He falls to his knees. Grey Worm steps up and slashes the throats of the masters still standing. Best joke ever, Grey Worm.

Tyrion urges the surviving master to tell his people what happened when Daenerys Stormborn and her dragons came to Meereen. Best summarise it though, dude… leave out the whiny bits. And most of season 4.

Aaaaand we’re in the North. It’s at this point my stomach starts nervously churning bile, like I’m waiting to undergo a surgical procedure but just overheard the nurse say something about no anaesthetic. And the nurse looks like Ramsay in drag. AAAAAGGGGH SO TENSE.

Jon and Sansa wait to parlay with Ramsay. It’s been weeks since we’ve seen the psychopathic little leprechaun in person, and I feel sympathy dread for Sansa.

Ramsay’s party arrives. Ramsay greets Sansa, thanks Jon Snow for returning her, and invites them to kneel to declare him the true Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North. If they do, all will be forgiven.

Jon declines, and suggests one-on-one combat so that thousands don’t have to die. Ramsay knows he’s no match for Jon, but points out that he has an army twice the size. Jon lands one by pointing out that his army might not want to fight for a leader who won’t fight for them. Jon: 1, Ramsay: 0.

Ramsay cuts the crap and threatens Rickon. Sansa asks how they know he even has Rickon for realsies. Once again, Lord Umber pulls Shaggydog’s head out of a bag and throws it to the ground. Does he just carry that thing around like a credit card all the time now? For everything else, there’s Shaggydog.

Ramsay starts to say something but is interrupted by Sansa, who has had enough of his tiny-headed-psycho-leprechaun bullshit: “You’re going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton. Sleep well.” She turns her horse and gallops off before he can respond. Ramsay looks sort of impressed.

Stark War Council meeting. Jon explains trenches to Tormund. Davos exposits that it’s crucial Bolton’s men charge at them first, so you know that’s precisely what’s going to go tits-up. Jon tells Tormund that he challenged Ramsay to a one-on-one in order to make him angry – that way he’ll come at them full tilt. I don’t know about this tactic… I’ve always thought Ramsay is more menacing when he’s having a great time, like on his horrific wedding night.

Sansa observes the men’s discussion in cold silence. She alone knows the depths of Ramsay’s cunning and depravity. As a man of honor like his father/unconfirmed uncle before him, Jon lacks the perverse imagination necessary to predict Ramsay’s monstrous potential manipulations.

Sansa knows he’s underestimating the enemy, and tells him so. Jon grumps that he hasn’t spent the past few years creating Pinterest boards – he’s been defending the wall from worse than Ramsay Bolton. Personally, I’d take a White Walker over Ramsay. But okay.

Sansa tells Jon what the rest of us already know: Rickon’s a dead-Stark-walking. She pleads with him not to do what Ramsay wants. Jon scoffs that that’s a bit obvious. It is, isn’t it Jon? Like, for example, if he were to bait you with someone you love because he knows that your compulsive hero complex is your weakness, you’d totally not fall for it. Because IT’S FUCKING OBVIOUS.

Back to Meereen, where the Greyjoys have arrived to propose an alliance with the Mother of Dragons. Tyrion holds a grudge against Theon for making dwarf jokes six years ago at Winterfell. Theon tells Daenerys that he has relinquished his claim to the salt throne in favour of Yara. Daenerys and Yara bond over the Westerosi glass ceiling and their arsehole fathers. They’re totes flirting, and I’m momentarily distracted by the potential ship names…Daeneryara? Yaraenerys? Targreyjoyaryen? My brain hurts.

Dany tells Yara and Theon that she’ll accept their ships and support their claim as long as they promise to respect the integrity of the seven kingdoms. The what now? Yara agrees and they shake on it. Boaty Spice and Flamey Spice are go.

Back to the North, and shit is about to get real.

With Winterfell in the distance, the two armies stand at the ready on opposing sides of the battlefield. Jon takes his position at the head of Team Stark. We see several burning, flayed bodies lashed to crosses, and the well-equipped Bolton army beyond.

Uh oh. Ramsay on his horse, pulling something on a rope. Flayed-carcass Rickon? Head of Rickon? Rickon à la Mode?

Oh. Okay. Just Rickon.

Maybe the kid’s going to be okay after all? It’s possible, right?

Ramsay: “Do you like games, little man? Run to your brother”.

Ramsay grabs his bow. Rickon takes off. Jon panics and gallops for Rickon. Rickon hauls arse over the empty battlefield. Ramsay starts firing arrows. Everyone shouts zig zag! ZIG ZAG! at their TV.

Ramsay misses. Twice. Three times.

 

Rickon gets close. Jon holds out his hand. The brothers almost touch.

Ramsay’s arrow spears Rickon through the heart; he falls to the ground and dies as Jon watches.

Tormund urges Jon from afar not to charge at the thousands of armed men whose sole purpose is to take him out.

Jon charges. The Bolton army release their arrows, some of which hit Rickon’s dead body. Jesus – too soon, shitheads!

From here on shit gets chaotic, so I’ll try keep it simple:

The Stark army charges.

Majestic slo-mo pony-cam. These horses have much better hair than those Dothraki dudes.

Jon insists on being a fucking idiot.

Arrows flying.

Jon’s horse is down.

Ramsay’s cavalry charges Jon.

Jon realizes he’s been played. Here’s a statement I never expected to make: you should have listened to Sansa.

In a move reminiscent of Stannis back when he realized he was up shit creek, Jon draws Longclaw and braces for battle.

The armies clash together: it’s utter carnage.

Long tracking shot of Jon being awesome…but what a cluster fuck this scene would have been to film.

Arrows flying. Bodies piling. Blood spraying. Horses collapsing. Men screaming. Ramsay yelling orders. More arrows. The dead bodies making a wall.

Davos charges with the Stark’s remaining men. Ramsay orders the Umbers to lead the next offensive.

Kit Harington covered in blood and mud; I’d prefer jelly and glitter.

Wun Wun charges. Wielding shields and spears, Ramsay’s foot soldiers encircle them. THIS IS SPARTA!

The wildlings throw themselves at the wall of shields, but not even Wun Wun can penetrate their defenses, though he does manage to tear one Bolton soldier clear in half.

Horror everywhere; desperate, limbless bodies, a man scrambling to hold his guts in, screaming and indiscriminate stabbing, people being crushed to death.

The Stark forces attempt retreat via the wall of bodies. Jon briefly comes face to face with Smalljon Umber before getting stomped into the mud and drowned in bodies.

Tormund takes on Umber. Jon struggles beneath the crush and can’t breath. Sad we’re-going-to-kill-someone-you-like-suckers violin kicks in….really? Jon’s croaking again? WHY DO YOU HATE ME??

Nope. He surfaces and draws breath in time to watch his army fall apart. All is lost. Ramsay’s preposterous lucky streak is holding out. But then…

A horn in the distance. Gandalf???

Tormund very satisfyingly bites Umber’s nose off.

Ramsay turns.

Cut to a white falcon on blue; it’s the VALE, motherfuckers.

Ramsay gets this look on his face which doesn’t even look like panic or anger. It’s more annoyed confusion, like his wife has told him her mother is coming to stay while her house gets completely renovated.

The Knights of the Vale – thousands of them – flood the battlefield. Jon’s face is all thank fuck.

Cut to see Littlefinger smiling to himself, Sansa by his side. She’s sending Ramsay some major vibes: you’re fucked, Lord Bolton.

Tormund stabs Umber in the eye. Again, very satisfying. Teach you to kill Shaggydog, traitor.

The knights of the Vale sweep through the Bolton soldiers. Wun Wun swats at Ramsay’s men with their own shields.

Jon claws his way over the mountain of the dead, wild-eyed and covered in gore. He sets his sights on Ramsay, and the look on his face is pure, animal rage.

Tormund and Wun Wun appear. Ramsay spots Jon, staring him down. Jon’s coming for you, bastard. The anticipation I feel at this point is like every Christmas morning ever, wrapped in crispy bacon. Goosebumps.

Ramsay heads for Winterfell, with Jon, Tormund and Wun Wun in hot pursuit.

Ramsay rides into the yard. They close the gate and he smugs that he still has the castle; all they have to do is wait it out.

Knock knock! Giant Avon calling! Or a really pushy Jehovah’s Witness.

Wun Wun pounds away at the gate. Ramsay disappears as his men try to take the giant out. Wun Wun breaks through, runs into the yard and falls to his knees. The wildlings storm in after him, and take down the remaining Bolton men.

Jon runs in and stops beside Wun Wun, who is dying. Waaah! Jon reaches out to touch the giant, and that’s when Ramsay finishes off Wun Wun with an arrow to the eyeball. Seriously, this guy cannot die enough times.

Ramsay says he’s reconsidered Jon’s offer of one-on-one combat, and draws another arrow.  Jon throws down his sword and grabs a Mormont shield off the ground. Ramsay shoots an arrow at him. And another. And another. Jon keeps coming; he’s a man possessed. Obviously I’m not remotely rooting for Ramsay, but surely he might want to try shooting Jon in the leg?

Jon reaches Ramsay, knocks him to the ground, and pounds away at his face. Like, wails on him. Woooot! Beat-A-Bolton-Bloody time! We’ve been starved of retribution like Ramsay’s dogs for too long. Honestly, they should make a screensaver of just this. Do people still make screensavers?  Jon tenderises Ramsay’s pinchy face until he notices Sansa watching, and then remembers to save her the best bit.

Bolton banners fall to the ground, and the Stark banner takes its rightful place once more. Stick a fork in me; I’m done. It can’t get any better.

Wrong! As Rickon’s body is carted off to the crypts, Sansa asks Jon where Ramsay is. It’s time to make good on yesterday’s promise.

Cut to Ramsay, tied up in the dog kennels. He comes to and sees Sansa, looking strong and regal, on the other side of the fence. It’s all very Silence of the Lambs.

Jon didn’t manage to beat the psycho out of Ramsay – he still makes a power play by promising Sansa that he’s a part of her now. She doesn’t deny this, but rather chooses to remind him: “Your words will disappear. Your house will disappear. Your name will disappear. All memory of you will disappear”. It’s the perfect cut-down for a man who loves nothing except power.

And with that, it’s time for dinner. Ramsay’s dogs appear. Ramsay, getting nervous now, tells Sansa that his hounds are loyal. She tells him they were…now they’re starving. And very accustomed to adrenaline-salted human flesh, might I add.

A hound gets right up in Ramsay’s face. It’s head is bigger than his. Ramsay’s all ‘Down! Down, boy!’. Nah. Fido chomps into his face, then proceeds to tear the meat off him. If this is wrong I don’t ever want to be right.

Cut to Sansa, watching on as Ramsay screams. She sort of turns to go, then changes her mind and awesomely leans in even closer. Pretty sure that’s what most fans are doing right now too.

Sansa finally turns and walks away with a creepy, cat-got-the-cream smile on her face as Ramsay continues to scream.  Just hand them the Emmy, already. Only Game of Thrones can make a man getting eaten by his own dogs a happy ending.

Next week: Who gives a shit? I’m not greedy. My bloodlust was more than satisfied by this episode. Okay, fine. Cersei and Loras on trial. The Lannisters and the Freys send their regards. Jerks. Jon and Sansa need to trust each other, and Dany’s in the great game now.

 

 

 

 

Game of Thrones S608: ‘No One’ Recap

We open in Bravos, where we last saw Arya staggering through a crowded marketplace, bleeding profusely from substantial Waif-inflicted stab wounds.

But now we’re here to watch that play. Again. Is it just me, or has a good chunk of Season 6 felt kind of like calling for your favourite pizza but getting repeatedly placed on hold and forced to listen to a panpipe cover of Greensleeves? Except we’re being placated with a stage interpretation of Season 4 – you know, that season where plot-developing stuff happened on a consistent weekly basis.

Fine. We’ll run with it. Lady Crane has worked some of Arya’s advice into her performance and has the audience eating out of the palm of her hand. They actually cry (ha! HA!) when Joffrey dies in her arms and she vows revenge. Afterwards she heads backstage to find Arya hiding out and looking like she might need a bag of A-positive sometime soon.

Lady Crane’s apartment, where she’s bandaging Arya’s torso. And here’s my first proper beef with this episode; the Waif gored her last week. Literally twisted the knife in her guts. And we know now that it was for-realsies Arya, not just-pretending-Arya or Jaquen-Arya. But a bandaid, some milk of the poppy and a kiss-it-better from Lady Crane is all it takes to get her on the mend?

Okay. Still running with it. Lady Crane tells Arya she should join the theatre, since they’re short an actress. Arya says she can’t – she’d be putting them in danger. Lady Crane pours Arya some milk of the poppy and tells her to drink it because sleep is the only thing that will heal her. Um, how about some freaking STITCHES for one? Not to mention addressing any internal haemorrhaging? Nerve and tissue damage? Maybe any punctured organs? Yes?

Fuck it.

To Westeros, where last week’s baddies from the Brotherhood are chilling in the forest. We expend shitloads of valuable episode time watching them act like frat boys. Thrilling. Thankfully the Hound descends upon them with his axe and gratuitous, bloodletting violence ensues..ahhhh, the relief. There’s even entertaining Hound dialogue, just like old times: “You’re shit at dying, you know that?”. I’ve missed you, Hound. Don’t ever leave again.

Meereen, where they’re serving cous cous. Spellcheck wants to change that to cows cows. A Red priestess is preaching to the people, declaring that Daenerys is a gift from the Lord of Light and the Meereenese need to have faith in her and her advisors.

Tyrion and Varys wander past, and Tyrion smugs that his gamble with Kinvara paid off. Varys disagrees with a confusing shaving metaphor, and Tyrion makes the obligatory joke about Varys never needing to shave. They stop in front of a gateway leading out to the port, and we learn that Varys is leaving on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan. Tyrion tells him he’s going to miss him, and then they manage to talk about the political importance of Varys’ journey without actually mentioning where he’s going.

Varys says the Queen has to return because his heart has been broken too many times already. Then he and Tyrion farewell each other, and uh oh. Foreshadowing. This moment has all the colours of a they’re-never-going-to-see-each-other-again rainbow: Tyrion’s parting joke as an attempt to cover the depth of his emotions, the camera lingering on Varys’ sad parting smile, Tyrion watching him walk away. The question is, where exactly is Varys probably off to die? Dorne? The Iron Islands? Dorne makes the most sense politically, but if I had to choose between more Sand Snakes or more Euron screen time, murderous uncle Euron wins the meat tray.

King’s Landing, where the Faith Militant have entered the Red Keep. Lancel and his men are there on behalf of the High Sparrow, who requests that Cersei return with them to the Sept. Cersei refuses. Lancel insists. Cersei chooses violence. Frankenmountain chooses a Sparrow and tears his head off. Blood runs black on the stones and drips down into the drain. Lancel looks close to fainting. Cersei looks like someone bought her a pony.

Brienne and Pod arrive at Riverrun, and Pod quickly ascertains that someone is laying siege to the castle. Not just any someone, Pod. The morally-questionable ying to Brienne’s honorable yang, Jaime-fucking-Lannister. Brienne spots the Kingslayer and you can tell a Bryan Adams love ballad – probably All For One – is playing on the loudspeakers of her heart.

Pod and Bronn shenanigans. They play-fight. Bronn punches Pod in the face. This scene was utter gap filler and was probably improvised on the day when the director realised he’d need something sparkly-but-pointless to stretch the episode out, but I’ve missed these two so much I don’t care. Everyone wants to hit the fucking squire, Pod!

Jaime and Brienne! Shedding their armour! Brienne lifts Jaime in her arms, throws him on the bed and orders him to spank her with his golden hand.

Nah. They’re talking about Sansa instead. Blech. Then they talk about the Blackfish. Then they argue like old times. Then they come to an agreement; if Brienne can convince the Blackfish to relinquish Riverrun, Jaime will allow them free passage to ride North with the Tully army and assist Sansa. Brienne tries to give back Oathkeeper and Jaime tells her his heart the sword is hers – it will always be hers. Or is the sword just a metaphor for his honour? I don’t fucking know. Brienne reminds him that if she fails and he ends up launching an attack, she will be obligated to fight him. Jaime hopes it doesn’t come to that. They make meaningful eyes at each other before Brienne runs from her feelings.

Brienne pleads with the Blackfish to join Sansa’s fight. Blackfish does not give two fucks. Brienne insists. Blackfish reads Sansa’s letter and remarks that she’s ‘just like her mother’. But still no. Brienne asks Pod to send a raven to Sansa that reads ‘Brienne FAILED. FAAAAAAAAAIIIIILLLED!’.

King’s Landing, where there is to be a royal announcement. Cersei enters the Throne Room and tries to take her usual place beside Tommen, but is thwarted by Kevan Lannister. Tommen, nervously kneading the Iron Throne, announces that Loras and Cersei’s trial will be held on the first day of the Festival of the Mother, and by the way the High Sparrow has convinced him to completely sell his Mum out by outlawing trial by combat. FUCK. FUCKING FUCKING FUCK. You’ve ruined our chances of Cleganebowl, Tommen.

Cersei realises she’s completely fucked. Qyburn appears at her side and informs her that his little birds have explored an old rumour she once told him about, and it’s more than a rumour.  Thanks for the cryptic status update.

Oh God. Tyrion-Greyworm-Missandei awkward comedy hour is back. I’m pretty sure Peter Dinklage is actually drinking in this scene, wondering why they have completely fucking wasted his immense, Emmy-winning talent almost solely on fish-out-of-water sitcom sketches this year.  Watching him read a Dr Seuss book to the dragons would be better than this. In fact, that would be kinda awesome.

Fine. They have another stilted conversation. It gets marginally less stilted with the addition of wine. I wonder if this episode would get better if I drank wine? Blah blah blah, bells start ringing and the city is under attack. The masters have come for their property.

Riverrun, and Jaime is visiting the captive Edmure Tully…who is wearing a really terrible wig. The wigs this season have been comical all round.

Jaime starts off good-cop. Edmure isn’t buying it, and wants to know how Jaime can live with himself. Jaime goes off on a slightly creepy tangent about how Catelyn Stark and Cersei were similar in their maternal ferocity. Then he cuts to the chase and tells Edmure he’ll catapult his baby son into the walls of the castle if need be – whatever it takes to take back Riverrun so he can return to Cersei.

Edmure is apparently persuaded; he convinces his men to open the gates to the castle and let him in, despite the Blackfish’s warning of a trap. Edmure enters the castle. He and the Blackfish glare at each other before Edmure tells the Tully forces to lay down their arms.

The Blackfish helps Brienne and Pod escape, but refuses to go with them. He’d rather die a completely pointless and illogically wasteful death offscreen, thanks. Then Jaime and Brienne wave at each other and share one last meaningful look as Pod rows the boat away – and the geographical and moral distance between them grows once more.

Meereen! Is burning! BURN IT. BURN IT ALL. Erm…*ahem*, I mean…how terrible. Whatever shall we do.

To the Great Pyramid, where everyone is freaking the fuck out. There’s a sudden thud and the ceiling shakes. Missandei grabs a blade and gets ready to use Tyrion as a human shield. The Unsullied get into position. They open the door…and Daenerys enters with a what-the-FUCK-have-you-lot-done look on her face. Over her shoulder we see Drogon fly off into the distance…hopefully to torch some enemy ships? Does ANYONE on this fucking show know how to use a dragon? Anyone?

Undisclosed forest location in Westeros, where the Hound has tracked down Lem Lemoncloak; Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr are about to hang him. The Hound and the Brotherhood argue over who gets to kill them.The Hound negotiates two, but is pissed that he can’t gut them, or even ‘Chop off one hand?’. The men die, and the Hound is hungry.

The Hound, Beric and Thoros sit around a campfire. The Hound prefers chicken, wooop! Beric and Thoros want to recruit him to the Brotherhood; apparently they’ve heard of cold winds rising in the North and want to help stop them. For some reason the Hound gets up to take a leak during this conversation, and we see the second penis in the show’s history. Are they throwing random wang at us to justify the continual exposure of Emilia Clarke’s breasts?

Bravos. Arya is still asleep. Noticeably resembling Catelyn Stark, Lady Crane checks on Arya, then goes and stands on a stool to reach something. A figure of a man appears behind her. Eeeeeeeek Waif-terminator!

A crashing sound awakens Arya. She discovers Lady Crane dead. The waif appears holding a knife and tells Arya she should have done her job in the first place. Arya throws herself out the window, but that’s okay. SLEEP WILL FIX IT.

A ridiculously conspicuous chase ensues through the streets of Bravos. The Faceless Men like to be faceless and ninja-like, except when they’re not. Arya runs through a steamy male bathhouse, but no token penis here.

The Waif catches up on the street; Arya responds by throwing herself down a flight of stairs, toppling basket after basket of oranges. The resets on this scene would have sucked. There are lots of shots showing Arya leaving blood tracks everywhere. Jesus, we get it.

Arya runs for her secret hidey-hole. The Waif follows. She tracks Arya into a small, candlelit room, and closes the door behind her. She promises Arya it will all be over soon. Arya draws Needle and steels herself. YES! This is what we’ve been waiting for! FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!

Nope. Arya slashes at the candle, and we cut to black.

Note to the producers: Next time, maybe less money on the parkour acrobatics and more on the fight sequences? I could forgive not seeing the demise of the Blackfish if I’d at least gotten to see Arya stick the Waif with the pointy end. This felt like such a cheat.

House of Black and Boring, where Arya has thoughtfully mounted the Waif’s face in the hall. I can see why she never got into sewing though – the handiwork is a little, uh, ragged. Arya tells Jaqen H’ghar that a girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell…and she is going home, motherfuckers!

Next week: The Battle of the Bastards. Will Jon die? Again? Or will Ramsay finally get the slow beheading-with-a-butter-knife that he deserves?

 

Game of Thrones S607: ‘The Broken Man’ Recap

We open in bizarro Westeros, where the sun is shining, the fields are green, and clean, cheerful people are working together in harmony to construct some sort of house of worship. Even the music is uncharacteristically uplifting, evoking a sense of hope and the possibility of a better future.  It stirs something deep within your heart, and you’re filled with a sudden clarity:  these people are going to fucking die.

Building, building, hammering. Jolly Papa Smurf Septon dude wearing a Seven-pointed-star necklace and joking about. People carrying big logs on their shoulders. One super-tough guy is carrying one all on his own and HOLY SHIT IT’S THE HOUND.

I totally didn’t see that coming. But you know what this means, right?

CLEGANEBOOOOOOOOWL!! And it better be this season, jackasses. Don’t cliffhanger this shit up.

The Hound is chopping wood. Papa Smurf Septon admires his form and muses that it must have been quite a man that cut him down. The Hound admits it was a woman. Papa Smurf laughs. Are they flirting?

Dinnertime. Papa Smurf brings the Hound a drink, presumably to wash down ALL THE FUCKING CHICKENS. Man I miss Season 4. We learn that the Septon saved the Hound’s life and believes the Gods have plans for him…like getting him to slay the Mountain in a trial-by-combat upset that results in Cersei getting the Anne Boleyn treatment, for example.

To King’s Landing, where Margaery is continuing her brainwashed-act in the High Sparrow’s lair. She’s wearing a modest dress that has more fabric than all her former dresses combined. The High Sparrow enters and she convincingly quotes the Book of the Seven: a wife salves her husband’s wounds and sings her son to sleep and makes nurturing casseroles before freshening up her makeup and popping some Xanax.

The High Sparrow ups his own creepy factor x 10 by asking Margaery why she isn’t putting out for Tommen. When Margaery tells him it’s because she’s no longer driven by ‘those desires’, her tells her that the King doesn’t need her desire – just patience. Patience? Why? Does it take forever? Tommen strikes me as a 10-seconds-and-done kinda guy.

Margaery agrees to give Tommen pity sex in order to produce an heir. The High Sparrow then openly pinpoints her grandmother as his next target. So with dour Septa Unella in tow, Margaery meets with Olenna and implores her to leave Kings Landing – then nearly blows her cover by squishing a note in Olenna’s hand. Olenna leaves and we see it’s a drawing of a rose, indicating Margaery’s ongoing loyalty to House Tyrell.

Stark Campaign Trail: Part 1. Jon, Sansa and Davos hit up the Wildling settlement and ask them to join the march on Winterfell. Jon reminds them that they’ll die if the Boltons aren’t defeated. Tormund weighs in with the emotional guilt: Jon, like, died for us. He’s the Christ figure that was promised. Wun Wun gives Jon the giant thumbs up, and the rest of the wildlings are on board.

Back to Kings Landing, where Cersei approaches Olenna and asks why she’s leaving the city. Olenna blows her off and reminds her that this complete cluster-fuck is due to her stupidity. Cersei agrees…she’s is weirdly passive during this whole scene. She tells Olenna that they need each other, and Olenna – ever eloquent and elegant – wonders aloud if Cersei is the worst person she’s ever met. I love this character. Run, Olenna! If the High Sparrow captures and beheads you, my heart will break.

Riverrun, where Jaime and Bronn arrive with the Lannister army. We hear the Rains of Castamere and Jaime is wearing Tywin’s threads, which I suppose is all symbolic of his moral pendulum swinging back towards being a coldhearted ball-bag who will compromise his honor to make Cersei happy. Hopefully Brienne sorts him out next week.

The Freys are trying to take back the castle by threatening to hang Edmure. The Blackfish appears and is all ‘meh’.  Jaime steps in and fires the Freys, then tells Bronn to get word to the Blackfish: he wants to party. What? Oh – parlay.

Stark Campaign Trail: Part 2: The Ballbreaker of Bear Island. Jon, Sansa and Davos meet with young Lyanna Mormont, who takes exactly no shit from anyone. She rebuffs Sansa and Jon, and asks why any more of her people should die in someone else’s war. Good question!

Lucky for Jon and Sansa, they have the best motivational speaker in Westeros by their side. Davos steps up and points out that the war is bigger than just a few squabbling houses; the dead are coming for them all. No one can resist a Davos sweet-talk, and Lyanna Mormont pledges them her fighting men… all 62 of them.

Back to Riverrun, where Jaime rides to meet the Blackfish. He tells him to surrender the castle and promises to spare his men if he does so. Blackfish tells him to go fuck himself. Jaime asks him why he bothered even meeting with him if he had no intention of saving his men’s lives. Apparently the Blackfish was bored shitless and wanted to get the measure of Jaime…and he’s disappointed. Eeeek! A zinger right to the heart of Jaime’s daddy issues.

Stark Campaign Trail: Part 3: Cranky House Glover. Lord Glover denies Jon’s request for support, and says the Boltons could skin him for even talking to them. Sansa is looking more and more pre-menstrual. Lord Glover learns that the majority of the Stark army is comprised of wildlings, and tells them to leave. Sansa bitchily reminds Lord Glover that his house is pledged to the Starks. Glover’s eye twitches and he informs her that the last time he fought for the Starks, his family and men were brutalised and murdered. So maybe shut up, Sansa.

Volantis, where Greyjoy sails are flying. Theon is sitting in a tavern looking twitchy, while Yara is enjoying some local hospitality. Boobs. Boobs everywhere. Theon asks why they had to come here, and Yara decides it’s time to give him a verbal kick up the arse; she forces him to guzzle ale and says she’s tired of watching him cower like a dog – it’s time for the real Theon to return. If he’s lost forever, he should cut his wrists – but if not, she needs him to come with her to Meereen (WHOOOP!) and make a pact with the Dragon Queen. Is he with her? Theon raises his head, looks her in the eye and nods. Another powerful moment from Alfie Allen.

Jon, Sansa and Davos arrive in Stannis’ old camp. You know, the one where he flambéed his own daughter. Speaking of, where is Melisandre at these days?

Sansa Snark bitches about setting up camp here, given that Stannis was defeated. Sigh. For someone who had zero fucking allies a few weeks ago, she’s pretty ungrateful. Davos reminds her that Stannis was the most experienced commander in Westeros and chose this location with good reason. Again – shut up, Sansa.

They dismount and talk numbers: 2,000 wildlings, 200 Hornwoods, 143 Mazins and 62 Mormonts make up their army. Um, you also have a giant. Just sayin’. How sweet would it be to see Wun Wun bitch-slap Ramsay against a wall?

Davos runs off to break up an argument between a wildling and a northman. Sansa snits at Jon about trusting Davos and tells him they need more men. Jon says they’ll fight with the army they have now, before the snow cuts them off. Sansa pouts before running off to send a raven to (presumably) Littlefinger. Dear Littlefinger, I know I told you to go fuck yourself a few weeks ago, but I’ve decided to revert back to my previously annoying self and hand you a chance to weave your poisonous web and create enmity between my brother and I. KTHXBYE.

Bizarro Westeros, where Papa Smurf is at the centre of a circle of trust and telling his people of his past transgressions as a coward, an arsonist, a thief and a murderer. Looking pointedly at the Hound, he says it’s never too late to come back. Aw. But also, it’s never too late to WREAK BLOODY REVENGE ON YOUR MONSTROUS BROTHER. So do that!

Three men on horseback approaching. The Hound smells trouble. Papa Smurf Septon greets the men, who claim to be protecting the people. They also want horses, gold, steel and food. Papa Smurf tells them they have none of the above, and they warn him that the night is dark and full of terrors.

Cut to the Hound, compulsively chopping wood again. Papa Smurf swings by and the Hound warns him that the men were from the Brotherhood Without Banners. Papa Smurf shrugs it off, and something tells me our brief time in bizarro Westeros is coming to an end soon.

Bravos! Arya finds herself some Westerosi sailors and buys her passage home. THANK FUCK. She’s even dressed like pre-House-of-Black-and-Boring Arya. Quick, Arya! Run home, reunite with the Hound and go on a justice rampage so we can forget this entire plotline ever happened. And when I say happened, I mean nothing fucking happened – for nearly two seasons.

Trip home sorted, Arya finds a bridge and looks towards Westeros. A little old lady approaches and says ‘Sweet girl’… before pulling a knife and stabbing Arya in the guts. She removes her old-lady face and we see it’s the Waif. Arya, bleeding like a stuck pig, headbutts her before throwing herself off the bridge. The water turns red with blood and the Waif is psychopathically happy.

Cut to see Arya surface elsewhere. She drags herself from the water and takes a look at her wounds. Erm…it’ll be fine. Just whack some Betadine on it. And maybe find yourself a Red Priestess.

We cut to see Arya staggering through the streets of Bravos, terrified and suspicious of everyone. She’s leaving a trail of blood behind her…deliberately? As some have already pointed out, she’s not carrying Needle – and the way in which she left herself utterly open to attack was very out of character. So hopefully Arya’s putting on quite the act, and the tables will turn on the Waif next week.

Back to the Hound, still chopping wood. Perhaps this is his version of nicotine patches? Instead of butchering people, he now channels his rage into the woodpile. He pauses for a moment to take a drink, and hears screams in the distance.

He returns to find everyone slain. Papa Smurf’s body hangs from the rafters. The Hound stares up at him for a moment, then grabs his axe. It’s time to eat ALL THE FUCKING CHICKENS.

Next week: Cersei chooses violence, Brienne arrives in Riverrun, Jaime loves Cersei and will kill every Tully ever in order to get back to her, the Waif is on watch, the Hound swings his axe, Tyrion inspects a chandelier, and Arya (I think??) parkours the shit out of Bravos.

%d bloggers like this: