I have to start at the end, because this episode contains one of the single greatest sequences ever made for television.
I don’t even know how to begin describing the utterly perfect final scene with Daenerys completely obliterating the show’s current status quo with her new army. Who hasn’t been waiting three seasons for the lovely Emilia Clarke to go completely berserk and destroy everything in her path? Everything about Daenerys bringing Astapor to its knees was majestic. From the fantastic revelation that she does indeed speak Valyrian (after suffering through episodes of insults), to ordering The Unsullied to kill the slave-masters, and then instructing her dragon to barbecue Kraznys alive – it’s beyond satisfying. I’m sure it couldn’t have been easy to convey so much rage and nuance in a language that doesn’t even exist, but Clarke sells it all with a formidable fire. The combination of the epic musical score, Dany’s heartfelt speech asking the Unsullied to fight for her, and the final march with the banging spears cements this sequence as a breathtaking achievement in every way.
This episode is also notable for the pulse-pounding scene in Craster’s Keep that features the death of not one but TWO pivotal characters – the perverted Craster (who finally got what was coming to him), and the enormously likeable Lord Commander Mormont. It’s a very shocking turn of events losing both characters so quickly, and it’s punctuated by a whole lot of mayhem as Sam runs to Gilly and they escape the village with her baby in tow.
And then there’s Jaime Lannister. Falling in manure, drinking horse piss, getting endlessly beat up after losing his hand – all the humiliation that the Kingslayer endues in the teaser is just heartbreaking. It’s a true testament to Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s talent that he can make the character so sympathetic after all the despicable things he’s done and said thus far. Interestingly, it’s Brienne who urges him to fight on, grateful after he saved her from rape last week. I’m really starting to root for these two and I’m curious if any romantic sparks will fly.
Bits & Beheadings
– Captivating sequence with Varys finally telling Tyrion the story behind his castration. It’s quite horrifying, and it climaxes with the reveal of the very sorcerer who cut him, trapped in the box that Varys had been unlocking. Incredible stuff!
– The fact that Catelyn is the one who pushes Bran in his dream – woah!
– How great is it to see Olenna and Cersei share a scene together? Too bad they’re not snappy with each other.
– Intriguing moment with Margaery getting Joffrey to open the doors and greet the masses while Cersei tries to stop them.
– So the boy that helped Theon escape isn’t so innocent after all. He brings Theon all the way back to the torture room by the end of the hour. Also worth noting, Theon regrets turning on the Starks when all is said and done, and he considers Ned to be his father. Took you long enough!
– So Brienne’ ISN’T worth a whole lot of sapphires. Smart Jaime!
– It’s amazing how ruthless Tywin is with his children. When Cersei tries to get him to acknowledge her contributions, he berates her for being unable to control Joffrey. I think he’s got a point there!
– I can’t get over what a hoot Lady Olenna is. Her scene with Varys in the garden is pure perfection in every way. And the two working together to keep Sansa away from Littlefinger? Even better.
– How clever is Margaery? Her proposing that Sansa marries Ser Loras is quite brilliant.
– So The Brotherhood without Banners believe in the Lord of Light. Melisandre would be proud!
– Dany’s dropping of the whip fits very well with 2016’s whole “drop the mic” trend.
– I just love the way Emilia Clarke pronounces “Dracarys” (which is Valyrian for Dragonfire). In case you were wondering, this is the third time she uses the order. The first was for practice, and the second ended with Pyat Pree getting fried.
Kings & Quips
Olenna: My son’s a hunter. It helps him forget he’s never been within a mile of a real battle.
Cersei: I seem to recall he laid siege to Storm’s End for the better part of a year.
Olenna: All he laid siege to was the banquet table in the command tent. I told him to stay out of Robert’s rebellion. He had no business fighting an actual warrior. We mothers do what we can to keep our sons from the grave. But they do seem to yearn for it.We shower them with good sense, and it slides right off like rain off a wing.
Cersei: And yet the world belongs to them.
Olenna: A ridiculous arrangement, to my mind.
Cersei: Years and years of lectures on family and legacy … the same lecture, really, just with tiny, tedious variations … did it ever occur to you that your daughter might be the only one listening to them? Living by them? That she might have the most to contribute to your legacy that you love so much more than your actual children?
Tywin: All right. Contribute.
Cersei: The Tyrells are a problem.
Tywin: The Tyrells helped us defeat Stannis Baratheon. The Tyrells saved your life, your children’s lives.
Cersei: Margaery has her claws in Joffrey. She knows how to manipulate him.
Tywin: Good. I wish you knew how to manipulate him. I don’t distrust you because you’re a woman. I distrust you because you’re not as smart as you think you are. You’ve allowed that boy to ride roughshod over you and everyone else in this city.
Cersei: Perhaps… you should try stopping him from doing what he likes.
Tywin: I will.
Handmaiden: Do you like it, Nana?
Olenna: Another golden rose. How original. I eat from plates stamped with roses. I sleep in sheets embroidered with roses. I have a golden rose painted on my chamber pot, as if that makes it smell any better. Roses are boring, dear. “Growing strong.” Ha! The dullest words of any house. “Winter is coming!” Now that’s memorable. “We do not sow.” Strong. Strong. Those are houses you watch out for. Direwolves and krakens, fierce beasts. But a golden rose growing strong … ha, that strikes fear in the heart. (She sees Varys) Look, little loves. A spider in the garden.
Olenna: Are you here to seduce me?
Varys: A little obvious, perhaps.
Olenna: Oh, no, please. Seduce away. It’s been so long. Though I rather think it’s all for naught. What happens when the nonexistent bumps against the decrepit? A question for the philosophers.
Varys: (about Littlefinger) He would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes.
Thanks to one of my favorite sequences ever made, this is the strongest episode of the season thus far.