Last week saw Jon Snow announce that he would go to Dragonstone to meet Daenerys Targaryen. The sense of urgency is notable in the story telling. Unlike other seasons of Thrones there is no time wasted whatsoever as the episode opens with Snow and Ser Davos landing at Dragonstone. It is merely the opener to what is an utterly flawless episode.
Watching the scene on the beach from high on the cliffs is Melisandre. Varys joins her. Is it just me or did he look really tanned? Anyway, Melisandre reveals a vulnerability, admitting her mistakes of the past. Yet she is still confident enough in herself to believe that she would be a distraction. Most intriguingly of all is her suggestion that she must return to Westeros one last time where she has to die. Varys too will die in this strange land. It sends a chill up the spine and alludes to the dramas still to come.
Daenerys and Jon finally meet
Back to the long awaited meeting of two central and popular characters. As expected an alliance is not easily formed and develops over the course of multiple scenes. Whilst we were teased with this impending meeting many might’ve assumed that their time together onscreen would be limited. Fortunately it is not. In fact a good proportion of the episode run time is dedicated to this developing relationship. The first meeting sets out the respective two positions and lasts nearly ten minutes. Although there is limited time with fewer episodes this season, siginificant time is dedicated to this meeting surely to the delight of the audience at home.
It begins with a rollcall of all of Daenerys’ achievements and titles. Jon Snow is merely ‘King in the North’. Tyrion struggles to hold in a chuckle, as did I. Jon has the unviable task of trying to convince Daenerys that the army of the dead and the Night King are real. Emilia Clarke’s speech in response is powerful and expertly delivered. She doesn’t just sit on a throne and look a queen; she radiates leadership and power. But Jon Snow matches her stride for stride. Although he halts Ser Davos from spilling the beans about his resurrection, it is a timely reminder that Jon has also overcome plenty and is a leader of men in his own right.
Meanwhile, in King’s Landing…
Euron Greyjoy is revelling in his victory last week, parading Yara, Ellaria and Tyene Sand through the streets and delivering them to the feet of the Queen. Cersei looks fabulous, veiled in black like an angel of death. Apt really given the grim fates that await Ellaria and her daughter. Once again there is no time wasted as Cersei extracts her revenge. The way she taunts Ellaria is callous and disturbing. Then suddenly the deed is done. Sealed with a kiss. Poetic justice if you will but the cruelest of retributions.
Before Mark Gattis appears in the Doctor Who Christmas Special at the end of this year he is back as Tycho Nestoris in Game of Thrones. The role of a banker is not an obvious one for Gattis but it demonstrates the callibre of actor required for even minimal roles in this global phenomenon.
Elsewhere in Westeros…
There is an emotional reuniting of Sansa and Bran Stark at Winterfell. Technically this now makes the three-eyed raven Lord of Winterfell given he is the surviving male Stark. The fact that he has made it back to Winterfell is a miracle in iteself. Similarly miraculous is the revelation that Jorah Mormont has survived his ordeal at the hand of Samwell Tarly’s cure for greyscale. Surely he will now head to Dragonstone to rejoin Daenerys so whilst she has lost some allies another may be returning to her side. The episode also sees the Unsullied army attack Casterly Rock. In a refreshing realisation of a battle sequence for the show Tyrion talks us through the events we follow on screen. But things are over rather swiftly.
In a surprising twist the Lannister army has largely abandoned Casterly Rock. Instead they have taken Highgarden. It is a tragedy to see Olenna Tyrell bow out with the last word but she sure went out on a bombshell! The revelation that it was Olenna who poisoned Joffrey makes you realise that we have been waiting since Season 4 for that simple piece of information. In another moment where a character onscreen replicates the emotions of the viewer, Jaime Lannister too is stunned into silence.