Wow- this episode was magic. From the second it appeared on catch up right up until the haunting notes of Jenny’s Song as it played out, I knew I was watching something special unfold. Despite there being very little in terms of special effects, a focus on dark candlelit scenes and the sense of being on the periphery of the story, there was more tension and atmosphere here than I’d seen in a long time. Focusing on character over action, this was an episode worthy of the earlier seasons and reminded me why I’d fallen for it in the first place.
It’s the kind of episode where you feel like you want to pick up all the pretty pieces and admire them in turn, but never feel like you can put it together in a way that does it justice. Poignant and moving, I laughed, cried and laughed through tears as the impending doom settled over the entire cast. Because while we hold our breaths along with the characters, on the edge of a battle no one can escape, I had this YOU’RE ALL GONNA DIE thought echoing in my mind. Which brings me onto spoilery notes…
AHHH DON’T LEAVE YOUR WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN THE CRYPTS- the enemy is a necromancer who brings people back from the dead!!! (I can’t take credit for this- though I had a niggling feeling about it the whole time cos as a fantasy rule the place where everyone is safe is not at all safe- but my friend pointed this out to me and when they did I was kicking myself cos of how obvious this is).
It’s not all terror and foreboding though- there were a whole range of the *feels*. Not least from that swoopingly romantic moment when Greyworm and Missandei kiss (she’s not gonna make it guys). But also the point that seems to have fascinated a lot of internet folk: Arya and Gendry getting it on. I could debate whether she was into it or not, but the thing that really strikes me about their scenes together is how far the show has come. Way back in season 2 I’d have shipped that, but now, with the impending doom, it feels less important… which only makes the doom seem more impending. For me, Arya’s best part in this episode wasn’t even that- it was having her deliver the line from the season trailer:
I also LOVED the callbacks to earlier seasons. So often we get to see how far everyone has come and the massive contrast with the first series- especially when we see the Lannister brothers interacting. It’s not a perfect episode, by any stretch of the imagination. There are lines I can’t imagine making their way into the book (Jaime confessing to his past sins in the crudest terms, even to his brother). And there are moments in the dialogue that aren’t great (sorry, pointing out that “really bad” is a bad line doesn’t stop it being a bad line). HOWEVER there also some very beautiful moments- with Roman ideas like:
I also adored this Tyrion moment:
Especially since I think Tyrion knowing this story could prove important- Tyrion has always been one to prove the adage “knowledge is power”.
On the topic of the Lannister brothers, Jaime’s trial was a bit of a lowpoint, since I felt there could have been more to it. That could just be me though- I made the mistake of watching the teaser and building it up in my head. Not that it mattered too much- there were payoffs in other ways. The entire episode does more than enough to reward fans- not in a fanficy way- but in a way that feels earned. In a way that says: “yes, we know you have been with us on this crazy journey for years, HERE IS YOUR REWARD!” One of the absolute best things was how Brienne and Jaime’s relationship was at the forefront of the episode. And the moment he knighted her was… *electric*. There’s no other way to describe it. I also really liked the build up- where it showed the hardest thing to do sometimes is to admit you want something- but at the same time that’s what really living is. Having a dream and given that dream a voice.
In a different way, I feel like a lot of characters have found their voice now- not least Sansa (hehe please turn a blind eye to the awkward segue). She was the *STAR* of the episode for me- which can’t be too surprising since, in the biggest TV turnaround I’ve ever had, she’s somehow become my favourite character (from being my least favourite in season 1- what does this show even do to us?!) It was one hundred percent confirmed that Sansa gets THE BEST reunions. Plus she she incredibly sharp, forgiving people when it’s politically expedient, she also knows when to stick up for the North’s interests. This isn’t simply looking out for her own self-interest- this is looking out for own people and their best interest.
This is in STARK CONTRAST to Dany (hehe pun intended 😉) All she cares about is the damn iron throne- not the people of Westeros. I will say, for the sake of the part of me that still likes her, that Dany’s hard edge very nearly softened… Until the very end of the episode and her confrontation with Jon- seeing only the worst in him when he has only ever been honourable and calling him a liar (poor Jon looked so bemused- cos, duh, he’s not trying to steal the throne from her). Not that all these squabbles matter cos the Night King is getting the throne…
Okay I jest, I jest. I think no one is getting the throne (and the #forthethrone marketing campaign is similar to last year’s “the lone wolf dies… but the pack survives”).
There were so many other things going on in the episode that I could be here a while longer talking about them all: Tormund being awesome, the little bear, Ghost’s cameo, Jaime and Bran in the God’s Wood. But I think as much as I never wanted to leave this episode, all good things must come to an end…
So what did you think of this episode? Did you enjoy it? Are you terrified for what’s coming? Let’s panic together in the comments!