Now that was fast. When Jon Snow ignored and subsequently defied the cautionary warnings from his allies in the North as he decided to meet the Targeryn Queen, I was half hoping for him and Ser Davos to have an enlightening conversation or two before arriving at Dragonstone. And even then, seeing as this would easily be the episode’s high-point, I was half-expecting it to arrive sometime closer to the episode’s end. But time and again, I seem to forget that when the show-runners said Game of Thrones would move at a frenetic pace in the last two seasons, they meant business.
Besides the opening titles which even after all these viewings cease to fail to amaze me, the episode literally opens with the King in the North along with his trusted aide Ser Davos and a small fleet of men stepping foot on the shores of Dragonstone with Tyrion, Missandei and some Dothraki gathered there to receive them. It’s a reunion long coming not just for Tyrion and Jon but for Tyrion and Ser Davos as well who, back in Season 2, fought on opposite sides in the Battle of Blackwater Bay. After exchanging pleasantries, the visitors are taken to see the Queen herself. It’s a long walk towards the castle and Jon finally comes to witness the three dragons with both fear and hope in his eyes. Fear in seeing the power that the Queen holds and hope in that if allied, Jon could get a huge helping hand in fighting off the Walker herd. Of course for that to happen, he needs to first convince the people at Dragonstone that the walker threat is real, something that proves to be far more difficult than he (and I) imagined.
And then, in the episode’s opening moments, we’re witness to one of the finest scenes this season so far. And it’s not a battle, but a meeting between two very powerful personalities, a clash of ice and fire if you will. There’s also some humor thrown in for good measure when both are introduced by their deputies; the Mother of Dragons goes by several titles such as Queen of the Andals, the Unburnt, the Breaker of Chains and many many more but Ser Davos has to contend with introducing Jon as merely the King in the North. The meet however goes far less warmly than the introductions.
Both sides are quite clear as to what they want. Daenerys insists that Jon acknowledge her as the rightful Queen of the Seven Kingdoms (including his own), bend before her and swear allegiance to her side in the Battle for the Iron Throne. Jon remarks on the futility of that Battle and instead seeks Daenerys’ help in fighting the true War that matters – the one with the army of walkers and the Night King. Both sides also have valid reasons for their demands. For Daenerys, it’s the oath sworn in by the Stark ancestors to fight by the side of the Targeryns. For Jon, its the atrocities of the Mad King and the fact that he’s actually seen and narrowly escaped the Walker Army. Of course it’s going to be as difficult convincing someone of dead rising as it is to convince them of the existence of Dragons. One wonders though that Daenerys after having bred dragons which as she herself remarks, did not exist for centuries could well believe in the news of the mythical Wight Walkers if it came from someone no less than a King. Instead, she rebuffs Jon’s suggestion that she help him instead. Matters almost come to a head if not for Varys’ interruption to bring in last episode’s grave news.
There is however one who clearly believes Jon. Tyrion being the wise-crack that he is, offers to instead help Jon by giving him something else that could aid him in his fight – the mountain of Dragonglass. He is instrumental in convincing Daenerys to allow Jon to mount the glass, noting that it would be a gesture of goodwill, one that could very well come in handy later on. There is something to say about Tyrion using his wordplay and passing on his own wisdom as ancient sayings. That is the Tyrion Lannister we’ve so come to love since the initial seasons. And the dynamic between Tyrion and Jon in competing for the most brooding man is a joy to watch. There’s respect and mutual trust between the two even as Tyrion plays things very smart, his smartness compelling even Jon to seek his political advice.
Meanwhile a shaken Varys, having just learned from Melisandre premonitions about his own death, lets the team know about the capture of the Greyjoys and the Sand Snakes by Euron who in the process has managed to burn many of their ships. Daenerys is clearly getting impatient and itching towards an all-out assault but Tyrion brings them on task to focus on the plan ahead, that of taking the Lannister’s stronghand Casterly Rock. The interactions are truly in line with each of their respective characters and this entire sequence at Dragonstone is witness to some of Season 7’s strongest writing and direction.
Euron meanwhile, as predicted in the last two episodes, brings Ellaria and her only surviving daughter as his gift to Cersei who in return agrees to his marriage proposal after the battle for the Iron Throne is over. Knowing Cersei, we all know she’d rather slay Euron than lay with him in bed. The only one she cares for is Jaimie and if there were any doubts as to whether she had become cold towards him, this episode’s love-making scene should put those to rest. That aside, Cersei does exact her revenge for Myrcella’s death by doing the very same thing with Ellaria’s daughter even though the build-up to that scene suggested something far more drastic and horrible. The way the scene plays out is testament to Lena Headey’s and Indira Verma’s strong performances, the latter only communicating through her eyes on account of being gagged by Cersei’s bodyguard and yet managing to convey the fear and pain she feels for her daughter who until now has mostly been a minor character on the show.
Cersei’s sleepover with Jaimie is interrupted by Tycho Nestoris from the Iron Bank who is there to collect the debt that the Lannisters owe them. Cersei swiftly convinces Tycho to side with the Lannisters as against the Targeryn fleet which in her words, consists of savages, dragons and slaves upon whose slavery the Iron Bank was getting revenue, revenue that is now lost thanks to the other Queen having liberated the slave cities. She asks for a fortnight to pay back all her debts. He agrees.
At this point it’s interesting to contrast the two Queens and examine their psyches. The Targeryn on one hand, guided by her Hand, is approaching the assault far more cautiously to avoid civil casualties. Cersei at this point is completely consumed by her newfound power and is almost detached from humanity after having lost her children. And yet, in the usually compassionate Daenerys, we’ve begun seeing a similar thirst for power, if not at the same level as the Lannister Queen’s. Dany too is getting slowly taken in by the Game of Thrones and perhaps this is all leading to somewhere. It will be interesting to see if at all Dany gets consumed by the excess power, loses patience with Tyrion’s slow plotting and orders a full on assault.
Tyrion’s planning also runs into a roadblock which ties in with his family ancestry. He is, after all a Lannister, and his Lannister siblings were quite able to anticipate what he would want to do. Unfortunately for Tyrion, Casterly Rock holds more significance to him than to the other Lannisters. And so they leave it more or less unguarded with a few Lannister soldiers placed there as decoys of sorts as the real Lannister army marches towards Highgarden where Jaimie conveniently walks inside and comes face to face with Olenna Tyrell. Seeing the end near and further resistance futile, she accepts her fate and Jaimie, being considerate sips poison in her drink assuring her a painless quick death. That she is the last of the Tyrells means her death is the end of a lineage and yet another powerful performer exiting the show. She does however go out after giving Jaimie a shocking revelation about her hand in Joffrey’s death, one that happened so long ago we almost lost track of it.
And so as the Unsullied take over an empty Casterly Rock, the Lannisters themselves take hold of HighGarden. In the process, Euron’s fleet destroys the Unsullied ships leaving them sort of stranded in the castle. But why exactly would the Lannisters want hold of Highgarden? The siege might be intended as a robbery of sorts and is probably how Cersei possibly plans to repay her debts. If that turns out to be true, it would also lead to the ambush of the Lannister fleet by the Dothraki and the Unsullied that has been showcased in the trailers and we can expect to see a huge battle in the next episode or two.
But the thing about a show like Game of Thrones is that it’s not just the battles that are exciting, but the dialogues and interactions. And with the show nearing its end-game, more characters are reuniting now than ever. We thus get one more interaction when Sansa, now confidently spouting orders in the North and wary of Littlefinger’s advances is informed of a visitor at the gate. While we were expecting it to be Arya, it turns out to be Bran, giving us a Stark reunion of a different kind. Bran tries explaining to her that he’s the Three Eyed Raven, a fact she refuses to buy or contemplate until he reveals information he knows about her wedding which sends Sansa walking back shocked. Whether that’s shocked at remembering her traumatizing time with Ramsay or the fact that Bran can now see and know everything and anything including her short-lived wedding remains ambiguous at best.
The Queen’s Justice was a very satisfying episode to watch and most of that has to do with the meetup in the episode’s opening moments. While we got there quicker than expected, the writers and director Mark Mylod did justice by allowing the sequence to unfold slowly for a cool 15-20 minutes. That gave us some room to allow it all to sink in. The characters are now crossing each other’s paths more frequently and now that we’re almost midway into the Season, things should get pretty exciting. At this point, it’s nearly a cliche but we at Appocalypse can’t wait for the next episode to air.
Overall Score: 9.5 / 10.0