7.3 The Queen’s Justice
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by Mark Mylod
So, this episode gives the fans what they’ve been waiting for since Daenerys set sail for Westeros. Melisandre puts it as melodramatically as possible: bringing “ice and fire together.” Jon and Dany! Dany and Jon! This is gonna be so great! Right?
Jon, Davos, and a couple of Stark guards land on Dragonstone and are greeted by Missandei and Tyrion. There’s a cute little moment that would make more sense if Tyrion and Jon hadn’t known each other for like a week several years ago (however long this show has taken in Westeros-time). Davos and Tyrion get over having been on opposite sides of the Blackwater really quickly, and Davos tries to get to know Missandei. He claims he doesn’t recognize her accent, but considering how all over the place accents are on this show and how standardly-English her accent is, I wonder why he’s having difficulty. He asks about Nath, and she refrains from mentioning that she was violently torn away from her homeland when she was a child and sold as a slave.
As they head up the causeway, Tyrion asks about Sansa and assures Jon that the marriage was never consummated, which isn’t something Jon wanted to know about. Tyrion mentions that Sansa’s smarter than she lets on, and Jon says “she’s starting to let on” in this really irritated tone because Stark men are the worst about listening to Stark/Tully women. Tyrion says Jon really shouldn’t have come down here because Starks don’t have a good track record when they leave the North. Jon says he’s not a Stark and Drogon the Harbinger of Loud Hints chooses that moment to buzz the group. Davos and Jon hit the deck; everyone else watches them with these faintly amused looks on their faces like jerks.
Dany’s sitting on the throne and Missandei announces her with the full range of her titles, every single one she’s earned in her long journey. There’s an awkward silence, and then Davos: “This is Jon Snow.” Awkward pause. “He’s King in the North.”
Remember how I said surely a meeting this momentous, this long-anticipated, was going to be awesome? It’s not. It’s . . . boring. Emotionless McDeadFace meets Close Your Damn Mouth Occasionally, Jon Snow. The characters talk at each other and past each other instead of to each other, and only the brilliant acting from Peter Dinklage and Liam Cunningham manages to mask that. Basically, Dany and Jon argue about why he should or should not swear fealty to her and make the North part of the Seven Kingdoms again. She argues that because Torrhen Stark swore fealty to Aegon centuries ago, by default Jon is her subject. He argues that Aerys failed in every duty he had to his people and murdered Jon’s grandfather and uncle, so those vows are no longer applicable. He doesn’t mention Rhaegar kidnapping, raping, and murdering Lyanna, which seems like a huge oversight on the part of the writers. If you wanted to remind us about a) how badly the last generation of Targaryens treated the last generation of Starks; and b) that Jon is a Targaryen, this would have been the way and time to do it. And it would have contextualized the significance of Drogon’s appearance earlier.
The disagreement turns into an outright squabble when Jon says that nothing matters if all of them fight “like children” until the White Walkers descend on them. She yells at Jon that she’s been through The Shit and what kept her going was herself and her own strength thank you very much and not, like, the people she’s liberated or a sense of justice or a sense of duty or anything else. She’s So Serious about this that she starts talking in third person. Davos yells back that Jon has also been through The Shit and he’s sacrificed everything—Jon stops him just short of telling them about his death and resurrection—to protect the people of the Seven Kingdoms. Honestly, if this is what the argument were to come down to between Jon and Dany ruling the kingdoms, I’m Team Jon here, because at least he’s putting other people before himself.
The fight breaks off when Varys comes in because he has news about the Ironborn fleet, which is probably what saves Jon from being fed to a dragon. Later, Tyrion goes up to the bluff to brood, where Jon is already brooding, and he has a quippy line about Jon looking better at it. He tells Jon that he’s asking a lot expecting people to believe him about an army of the dead, but offers to take any reasonable request or suggestion back to Dany. He tries to sell Jon on Dany’s inherent goodness; she liberated Slavers Bay and stayed to help the people instead of immediately leaving for Westeros, for one thing (that’s a radical interpretation of the text, but okay. It’s not like Tyrion was there, and that’s how he might see it). He says Dany and Jon both protect people from monsters. Let’s see how well Dany “protects” people from her own dragons, shall we?
Back down in the keep, Tyrion manipulates Dany into agreeing to give Jon the dragonglass he came for. They speculate about Davos’ almost-slip about Jon “taking a knife in the heart,” but neither knows what it means. Dany goes to find Jon to tell him that he’s allowed to mine in Dragonstone and sympathize over lost family (though how she knows Jon only lost two brothers and not three and a sister is beyond me. Does Westeros have an Internet?). She again pushes him to declare the North part of the Seven Kingdoms and her the queen, and he again refuses, which again irritates her.
Over in King’s Landing, Euron’s riding through the streets, towing Yara, Ellaria, and Tyene behind him on leashes. It actually took me a minute to realize this was King’s Landing because the people are cheering Euron. It appears that nobody really cares that a) the Sept blew up a few days/weeks/months ago; b) their third king in a few months/years died; c) someone with zero claim to the throne is currently ruling them; and d) Euron is Ironborn and the Ironborn have been the scourge of every town within reach of the sea for hundreds of years. Maybe they’ve never directly hit King’s Landing, but that doesn’t mean the people of King’s Landing would like Euron.
Also, Ellaria and Tyene have of course had their dresses ripped open to the waist, because this is the show’s last chance to sexualize the women of color. Euron continues to be gross, saying that all this adulation is “making [him] hard” and giggling about Theon, calling him a “twat.” He rides into the Red Keep and right up to the throne, throwing Ellaria and Tyene at the foot of the throne. Ellaria gets a look at Gregor and stares at him. Cersei promises to marry Euron after the war is won, and Euron gets all giggly, mugging for the crowd and asking Jaime how Cersei likes sex—“gentle, or rough? A finger in the bum?” What are you, twelve? The hell is this writing, even?
Cersei goes down to the dungeon to talk at Ellaria for a bit, taunting her in much the same way she taunted Septa Unella. Then she kisses Tyene, wipes her lips, and chugs an antidote while Ellaria and Tyene freak out. Cersei says she’s going to leave them down here forever so Ellaria can watch Tyene die and then rot. Ellaria and Tyene sob and try to reach each other but the chains keep them just apart.
I’m not sure who the writers are trying to get us to sympathize with here. Ellaria and Cersei are both The Worst. Tyene’s just badly written and young, but she still helped Ellaria with her plan to be The Worst. I’m annoyed that we’re down to one woman of color in the show now—Missandei—but is it better to have no people of color or a few horrifically stereotypical people of color? As a not-person-of-color, I don’t think I’m qualified to answer that.
Immediately after murdering Tyene, Cersei goes upstairs and jumps Jaime. He says “no,” but she grabs his face and kisses him, and he doesn’t try to stop her again. She pulls his pants off and gets on her knees because, I don’t know, maybe we need to counterbalance the female pleasure we had last week? Then we get the return of Lena Heady’s body double as Cersei gets out of bed the next morning, having decided that she doesn’t care who knows that she’s sleeping with her brother. I notice the dress code for handmaidens in King’s Landing has changed—no more of those easily-removable drapey sack things. Now the maid in question is wearing a black dress buttoned up to the throat and her hair is cut similar to Cersei’s.
Cersei has a meeting with that dude from the Iron Bank, who congratulates her on “casting off the yoke of superstition” by destroying the Sept. Cersei says it was a terrible horrible accident (is that the story we’re going with? Really?), and he’s like “riiiiiiiight.” He reminds her that the Lannisters and the crown both owe the Iron Bank a lot of money, and she says she’ll be able to repay it in a couple of weeks. But apparently the Iron Bank is interested in “investing” in this war of theirs, so Cersei has to negotiate another loan? Even though she hasn’t paid this one back yet and it took years of saying “screw the Iron Bank” for the crown to get anywhere near paying it off? Why would they be interested in throwing more money at Westeros? Cersei claims that she’s a better investment than Daenerys because she didn’t overthrow the slave trade that no doubt the Iron Bank had a considerable stake in.
The Iron Bank. Of Braavos. Involved in slave trading. I am highly suspicious. The Free Cities were founded to specifically be slavery-free. Most of them haven’t lived up to that, sure, but Braavos in particular is anti-slavery because they were founded by slaves. While the Bank probably has fewer scruples than Braavosi society at large, there’s no indication, not even a hint, in the books that the Iron Bank has any business with Volantis, Qarth, Astapor, or Meereen, let alone with slavery. It’s a small detail, but shows yet again that Benioff and Weiss don’t care about the details of culture and politics in any of the societies they’ve chosen to adapt.
Up in Winterfell, Sansa’s showing her leading ability by doing the minimum stuff that Jon should have been doing already, like making sure they have enough food to last through winter and checking up on the armorsmiths. Petyr tries to tell her that preparing for Cersei is more important than preparing for winter and she tells him to shut his damn mouth. Then he puts on his most foreboding voice and tells her that she has to prepare for everything at all times and think forty-seven moves ahead. Thanks, Darth Petyr. A guardsman runs up and tells her that there’s someone at the gate.
It’s Bran! Bran’s home! Or, you know, a dead fish wearing Bran’s face. Sansa hugs him and he lies there like, well, a dead fish. They go to the godswood to talk, and Sansa tells him he’s technically lord of Winterfell now, but he says he can’t be because he’s the Three-Eyed Raven. Sansa asks him what that even means and he says he can’t explain it because the writers don’t know what he is beyond a convenient exposition machine now, either. He says he’s sorry about everything she’s gone through and she looked really pretty in her white dress the night she was raped. Of all the things he could have told her (the White Walkers are real. Jon’s a Targaryen. Arya’s alive. Rosebud was his sled), this is what they went with? Was it supposed to show that he’s creepy and not human anymore? Because that’s exactly what it did. Sansa leaves, completely freaked out, as she should be.
Down at the Citadel, Archmaester Ebrose pokes at Jorah and makes hmmm noises. Apparently Jorah is completely cured. He (very badly) attempts to cover for Sam’s obvious and disobedient intervention. Jorah thanks Sam and says he’s headed off to see Dany. Sam gets scolded by Ebrose for disobeying, but isn’t kicked out of the Citadel because the cure actually worked. Instead, he gets to recopy a whole bunch of decaying scrolls and I bet he finds something in there that blows everything open.
Finally, the big battle of the episode. Under voiceover from Tyrion detailing their plan, the Unsullied take what I guess is the other half of the Ironborn fleet to Casterly Rock and land. While most of the army attacks the walls directly, Grey Worm and a couple of others sneak in through the sewers that Tyrion says he built (he talks like Tywin built Casterly Rock from the ground up and he designed the sewer system, which is ridiculous, but when has that stopped anyone on this show before). Also, we already did taking a city through the sewer, but when has that stopped anyone on this show before? Also also, this whole battle is . . . dumb. Here, watch this guy explain why:
Grey Worm realizes that there aren’t enough people there and wonders where everyone else is. Why, marching across the Reach with Jaime at their head, because somehow it only took him a few days (??) to go from King’s Landing to Casterly Rock (across the entire continent) and then down to Highgarden! Off-screen, the Lannisters crush the Tyrell army and Jaime storms into Olenna’s room to take her surrender. She asks if her army fought well, and he says as well as could be expected. She claims that the Tyrells have never really been fighters (wait, what?) because they’re roses (we can stop taking sigils so danged literally any time now) and says they figured he’d be defending Casterly Rock. He says Casterly Rock has no strategic value (what did I say last week?!!!) and they’ll be able to retake it super easily since they emptied the larder on their way out. She asks how he’s going to kill her and whether it will hurt; he gives her some poison and says it’s completely painless. She says good, cause she wouldn’t want to die choking on her own viscera like Joffrey did, and be a good boy and tell Cersei I killed her son, won’t you, darling? Mic drop.
I will miss Diana Rigg. She brought a gravitas to the show and the terrible writing they gave her that made it seem almost good.
It’s worth noting that, despite the back-patting Benioff and Weiss gave themselves in the “Inside the Episode” for “Stormborn” that Dany’s entire alliance is made up of women, that in the very next episode all of them except Yara are dead, and Yara’s out of commission. Way to feminist, guys.
Lots of soldiers
Next week: Ice and Fire don’t get along so good. Dany unleashes the dragon. Arya comes home.
images from winteriscoming.net