Last night’s Game of Thrones was talky and plotty—which was to be expected after the full-throttle action of last week’s episode. With “Eastwatch,” the story mostly came down to Earth (or whatever the hell planet Westeros is on), eschewing the major battle sequences that characterized the previous three episodes. And yet the Game-board changed in some very significant ways—one way, in particular.
But we’ll get to that, along with a side heaping of spoilers. You’ve been warned.
We begin with Bronn and Jaime popping out of Blackwater Rush, which is either in the Riverlands, or the Westerlands, or the Crownlands. Wherever the fuck we are (probably somewhere not too far away from King’s Landing, albeit someplace where there are mesas, apparently?), there are immediate questions. 1) How come the river is so deep at this very specific place? 2) How did they get so far away from the battle? 3) HOW DID JAIME GET HIS HAND BACK? Look. Jaime’s hand is solid gold. The thing would have sunk like a stone. Faster than a stone, actually. And in the “previously on” recap, his hand was CLEARLY not attached to his body. And yet, there it is, safe and sound at its expected place on the end of Jaime’s arm. How is this possible?! Did Bronn scoop it up? Did the Blackwater somehow regurgitate it? Did it… oh shit… did it magically regenerate? Is Jaime Lannister a magically regenerating golden man??!?
This changes everything.
Further upstream, Tyrion walks sadly among the ashes, regretting his part in the dragon-massacre perpetrated by his dragon-queen and the dragon-fire from her dragon-dragon. Daenerys and the Dothraki have rounded up the surviving Lannister soldiers—including Tarly forces—and given them a choice: bend the knee or become a dragon-roasted s’more. Hmm. That’s not much of a choice, really. PRO GOVERNING TIP: If you say you’re offering someone a “choice,” but one of the two available options is death, that’s not a choice at all. Still, Grumpy Ol’ Tarly will not kneel, because Daenerys and her army are furriners and he’s a xenophobe. (Let’s not point out that his preferred queen, Cersei, is about to hire a mercenary army from Essos, which would be committing exactly the offense Tarly Senior accuses Dany of.) “Say what you will about your sister,” he growls at Tyrion, “she was born in Westeros.” Uhh, so was Daenerys, dude! Ever heard of a little place called Dragonstone? For their veiled racism and lack of geographic knowledge, Tarlys Père and Fils are turned into bananas foster.
HOT PREDICTION: What could be hotter than a Tarly flambé? Tyrion’s wariness of Daenerys going full Targaryen, for one, but it’s easy to see how that will play out. (The more people that burn, the more Tyrion will frown disapprovingly—he is truly the Paul Ryan of Game of Thrones.) That aside, I wonder if the deaths of his father and brother will play into Sam's potential relationship with Jorah and Dany later down the line. This seems likely. Otherwise, why have we spent any time with the Tarlys at all?
Meanwhile, in King’s Landing, Qyburn and Cersei are up to something. Queen secrets! Jaime brings her two pieces of bad news: The loot train has been turned into an ashtray, and it was Olenna that killed Joffrey. Cersei seems to recognize the odds she’s up against—and says her only options are to surrender and die, or to fight and die. So she’ll fight. But wait—something is about to change Cersei’s fatalistic outlook in a way that will dramatically reshape the show as it heads toward a conclusion, I’m pretty sure. More on that later.
In Dragonstone, Jon and Drogon share a little face time. What’s important here is that Drogon does not immediately chomp on Jon. We are reminded that the dragons in Game of Thrones, when you look at them close-up, are pretty disgusting creatures, but don’t tell Daenerys that. Meanwhile, her much, much older flame Jorah has returned, and they have a (very windy) reunion. They hug and it’s totally weird.
In Winterfell, Bran wargs into a flock of ravens for a reconnaissance mission north of the Wall. Not sure what strain of sweet leaf Bran has been puffing on, but it must induce hella paranoia, because in Bran’s vision, the Night King looks at warg-raven-Bran and KNOWS it’s him. He just KNOWS.
In Oldtown, the maesters talk shit about Winterfell’s Maester Wolkan (ugh, Maester Wolkan, amirite?) and generally pooh-pooh the arriving news of the army of the dead. Sam pipes up, Archmaester Ebrose listens with a small degree of patience, and the crusty, tut-tutting maesters go back to tut-tutting, crustily.
And in Dragonstone, a crazy-ass plan is hatched, but before that happens, Tyrion and Varys have a secret throne-room chat. We learn that the two are both worried about Daenerys becoming like her father, killing and destroying to preserve her power. We also learn that Varys is totally the roommate who reads everyone else’s mail. Now, the big plan! Oh, it is bonkers and bad. It involves kidnapping a wight from north of the Wall and bringing it down to King’s Landing so Cersei can see it.
What could possibly go wrong?
HOT PREDICTION: Oh, I don’t know… everything??? However, I will withhold judgment on the shoddy nature of this plan, and instead look forward to a wacky, slapstick-y Weekend at Bernie’s type scenario in carting this dead/alive body down to the Red Keep. There are gonna be so many high jinks, you guys! (Also, the plan is about to get pretty awesome, as we’ll see.)
We return to King’s Landing for this week’s best sequence: a top-secret espionage mission that involves clandestine meetings, fermented crab, and a couple of blows to the head. I love sneaky adventures like this, full of sneaks and secrets and sneaking. The show should have more of them. The reunion of the Lannister brothers is a little tense—Tyrion is about to burst into a tear-strewn speech about being born a dwarf, which seems inappropriate for the situation. But he and Jaime agree to try to convince Cersei and Daenerys to reach an accord, which is not something I would have predicted a couple of weeks ago. Meanwhile, Davos finds Gendry, who is working as a smith, smithing away in the smithy part of Flea Bottom. Do we know Gendry’s last name? Can it be Smith? Anyway, Gendry’s back, everybody! Davos says something Davos-y and wise-sounding (“Safety is never a permanent state of affairs”) and Gendry Smith is ready to leave at the drop of a hat. He packs light, for the most part. The two return, sneakily, to the beach, where two TSA agents—I mean Kingsguard—are sniffing for a handout. They get one, but when Tyrion shows up and ruins their getaway—Tyrion is so bad at sneaking, you guys—Gendry dips into his carry-on luggage and hammers out a solution.
Up in the Red Keep, Jaime gallops into Cersei’s chamber to tell her about his meeting with Tyrion. Qyburn’s there. Apparently his talents stretch to obstetrics, because Cersei, it turns out, has a hot pie in the oven. It’s played down, but be sure: THIS is the twist of the week and immediately changes the stakes of the central conflict between Cersei and Daenerys. Before this, Cersei had been stripped of her identity as a mother—she had lost all her children and was hell-bent on destruction, her own along with everyone else’s. But now her entire outlook has radically changed. If she was vaguely suicidal before, she now has a life-altering reason to stick it out and survive. And if that means submitting to Daenerys—or at least pretending to—she will now take it into consideration, a thing that would have been unthinkable last week.
HOT PREDICTION: So Cersei’s position on the game board has utterly changed. No longer childless, she now has a really, really good reason to stay alive: to protect her as-yet unborn baby. But this also greatly changes things for her babydaddy, or brother. (Ugh.) The show has been leaning toward having Jaime be the one to take out Cersei, but with her now carrying his baby? Things. Just. Got. Really. Complicated. If he does murder her, I envision a lot of ugly-crying and even possibly snot-tears. “Never betray me again,” Cersei whispers to Jaime, incorrectly: He did not betray her in the first place (he immediately told her about his meeting with Tyrion as soon as it was over), but with Cersei’s saying this out loud, he is now required by plot mechanics to betray her at some point in the future.
Back in Dragonstone, Gendry and Jon Snow are getting along like House Tarly on fire! (Get it? That is a callback to something that happened earlier in the episo… oh, never mind.) These two are like bastard-peas in a bastard-pod, except that maybe one of them’s not a bastard after all? Anyway, Tyrion gives Jorah a coin that I have no memory of, and Daenerys is acting awfully warm to Jorah. HOWEVER. Daenerys also gives telling glimpses to Jon Snow as he gets ready to leave Dragonstone. We all know they are aunt and nephew, right? That has basically been confirmed, right? And yet we watch them make steamy eyes at each other, incest taboos be damned. Kudos to Benioff and Weiss for finding new and unexpected ways to make this show icky and unsettling.
In Oldtown, Gilly is spouting off random factoids from Poor Maynard’s Almanack, and B&W decide to twist the knife in loyal viewers’ (and book-readers’) sides by glancing over a key bit of very important information. Turns out Rhaegar’s marriage was annulled so he could marry someone else in Dorne, which just happens to be where the Tower of Joy was located, and that Tower just happened to be where Lyanna Stark gave birth to a boy who just happened to be Jon Snow. We think. Right? I admit I can no longer remember how much of the R+L=J theory has been officially confirmed by what we’ve seen onscreen. Anyhoo, Sam is not listening and blows a gasket about the hidebound views of the crusty, tut-tutting maesters, so he gets some serious revenge by stealing some books from the library. You show ’em, Sam! (Those Citadel late fees are NOT something to fuck around with.)
In Winterfell, Littlefinger is up to his usual sneaky bullshit. (Yeah, I know I said I love it when the show does sneaky secret espionage stuff, but I don’t like it when Littlefinger does it.) Fortunately, Arya is hot on his tail… or is she? Littlefinger is palling around with Glover and Royce, and seems to be trying to turn them against Jon Snow in favor of Sansa. Meanwhile, he plants a scroll in his mattress for Arya to find: It’s a damning piece of correspondence that Sansa wrote from King’s Landing while she was under Cersei’s influence. One could even say its contents started the War of the Five Kings. The words on the scroll are utterly meaningless now, but if Arya takes them at face value (she does, after all, have six or so years of plot to catch up on), she may be poised to turn against her older sister. YAWN.
HOT PREDICTION: Goddammit, Littlefinger. It’s time for you to go, seriously. Your shit is annoying and predictable. I hope Arya wears the face of someone cool when she kills you. Do her assassin-masks need to be of dead people? Maybe she could wear Catelyn Stark’s face and visit Littlefinger in a “dream.” Oh god, that would be amazing. Such a development would complicate this current Lady Stoneheart theory, but let’s be real—it is a cockamamie theory.
Finally, the promise of a new location in the credits is made good at Eastwatch. Thank god they finally got rid of Pyke—we haven’t even been there since the Kingsmoot, have we? And yet its rickety bridges swayed in the credits for most of this season. (Meanwhile, the credits makers couldn’t be bothered to whip up models of Casterly Rock or Highgarden.) Anyway, turns out Eastwatch is a pretty underwhelming location—just a bunch of huts pasted to the side of a wall of ice. But inside, a Magnificent Seven has formed: Jon Snow, Jorah Mormont, Gendry Smith, Tormund Giantsbane (who Gendry takes a liking to immediately), and the three remaining remnants of the Brotherhood Without Banners, who have been conveniently lounging in a cell. With the addition of Beric Dondarrian, Thoros of Myr, and the show’s best, deepest, most interesting character, Sandor Clegane (“call me Houndy”), this is a party out of the best D&D campaign of all time. These seven, despite their differences, are about to head out into the snowstorm and steal a zombie. Oh my god, this is going to be amazing.
HOT PREDICTION: If the remaining two episodes this season were devoted entirely to Jon, Hound, & Co.’s Exciting Snow Escapades, I would be one hundred percent okay with that. There will be flaming swords. There will be hammers to the skull. There will be cold and weariness and bearded men growling gruffly and white walkers and zombie giants and HOLY SHIT I CANNOT WAIT. It may have been a slow episode this week, but it was full of necessary stage setting, because this is going to be tremendous.
And with the Cersei plot taking a surprising turn—I bet she names the new baby “Joffrey,” because Cersei is totally the kind of mom who would do something like that—the big war between the two queens has been temporarily muted. While it looks like Cersei will be trying to reach an armistice with Dany for the time being, the conflict’s bound to arise again, and it will be either bloody or flame-ridden or both. But there’ll be plenty of time for that. For now, SNOW ADVENTURE!!!
Check out our past recaps of Game of Thrones' seventh season!
• Episode 1: Hitting the Home Stretch in "Dragonstone"
• Episode 2: Valyrian Grammar and a Boat Fight in “Stormborn”
• Episode 3: Meting Out "The Queen’s Justice"
• Episode 4: Fighting Over “The Spoils of War”