NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Game of Thrones”, including multiple major character deaths, are present in this review
Game of Thrones’ seventh season continues to move along on a very strong note this week, but better than that, we finally get to see the long anticipated first meeting between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen! This landmark event didn’t disappoint, but better still is the fact that, “The Queen’s Justice” was an outstanding episode of Game of Thrones in every respect, rounding off the fateful meeting at Dragonstone with no shortage of other exciting developments, especially as a few more houses in Westeros reach their violent ends at Cersei’s hands.
Last week, I wasn’t totally clear as to what Euron was playing at in chasing after Yara, but it turns out that he wasn’t after Yara specifically, and was actually going after Ellaria and her daughters! The daughters don’t specifically matter, which is why two of them are dead now, but Ellaria was the true prize, as Euron dumps her before Cersei as his promised, “Gift”, allowing Cersei to take revenge for the murder of her daughter, Myrcella a few seasons ago. There have been some really amazing callbacks to this show’s history as Game of Thrones starts to come full circle for its overall climax over its two remaining seasons, but this was an especially satisfying one, as Cersei poisons Tyene with the same tainted lipstick, then forces Ellaria to rot in the dungeons while being kept alive so that she can watch her daughter die and decompose. Even for Cersei, that’s cold! This is apparently the final bow for House Martell on Game of Thrones to boot, and for the most part, it’s a fitting exit for Dorne’s nobles on this series. They were an interesting house and nation that just ultimately couldn’t play with the big houses very effectively, in terms of story intrigue and memorable influence.
Fortunately, like I said, the coming together of Jon and Daenerys was every bit as satisfying as fans would hope. The two initially distrust each other, but it’s interesting to see both Davos and Missandei ironically and inadvertently indicate how similar these two characters are, with both being outcasts that have no birthright, while both of whom ended up becoming leaders and heroes to many people. The reunion between Jon and Tyrion was equally satisfying, especially since they bonded as outcasts right from the start of the series! It’s this friendship that allows reason to prevail on both sides, with Tyrion being the one to bring the two together, suggesting that Daenerys should allow Jon to mine the Dragonglass at Dragonstone, since it’s of no value to her. Jon still doesn’t seem to be eager to bend the knee to Daenerys in her claim to the Iron Throne, but it’s good that we have a slow burn to the development of Jon and Daenerys coming together, especially since this show has now all but completely spelled out the dramatic irony that Jon is and always has been a lost Targaryen son.
There were also a few other scenes that played really well throughout the episode, even if not much forward movement was achieved from every perspective. For example, it was neat to see how well Sansa is settling into the role of being a leader at Winterfell, just as it was a great surprise to have her reunite with Bran! Bran may have come back to Winterfell, but his confession of having to be the Three-Eyed Raven inevitably threw a wrench into the obvious declaration by Sansa that Bran is the proper Lord of Winterfell. If Bran’s not staying, I’m not completely sure why exactly he bothered to come back to Winterfell and see his family, though as Sansa says, it probably has something to do with the fact that Winterfell has objectively got the most tactical value in the first real stand against the coming White Walkers.
Likewise, we also got some small update scenes with Sam and Theon, which mostly existed to resolve events that were left hanging at the end of last week’s episode. Theon ends up being picked up by a passing ship, where he claims that he did everything he could to save Yara, but as one of the ship’s men points out, if that were true, then Theon wouldn’t be there. As for Sam, he gets a more heroic turn, as Jorah is revealed to have been completely cured of Greyscale, with Sam somehow perfectly executing the risky and difficult procedure that he read up on! Jorah sets out to reunite with Daenerys again, and as for Sam, well, he’s ‘rewarded’ by Archmaester Ebrose by not being immediately expelled from the Citadel for defying orders. It’s a little unceremonious, considering Sam’s amazing feat, and the anti-climactic end to both Theon’s and Sam’s storylines this week was a bit disappointing overall, especially when Theon’s ‘storyline’ barely runs for a combined two minutes. Still, I suppose that the hint of Sam being a fantastically gifted archmaester-in-the-making is bound to have some sort of great payoff towards the end of the series.
This week’s Game of Thrones episode nonetheless had an excellent and highly thrilling ending however, when Grey Worm’s forces finally make it to Casterly Rock, with Tyrion tipping them off to a secret entrance that he had built, while constructing the sewers on Tywin’s orders. Grey Worm’s Unsullied forces do manage to take the keep itself, but it turns out that this was also a trick by Cersei, with Euron attacking the fleet in the water, thus stranding Grey Worm and his men at the keep!
While that’s going on, Jaime’s ground forces also march to take Highgarden, which leads to them easily taking over House Tyrell’s stronghold, as Jaime confronts Olenna in one last scene. After Olenna confesses to Jaime that she was the one who poisoned Joffrey, and makes it her final wish that Jaime tell Cersei that it was her who did it, Jaime has Olenna drink poisoned wine, leaving her to die alone. While some may be disappointed that Olenna’s death ultimately takes place off-screen, her exit was nonetheless one that does her character very proud, as she seemingly predicts Jaime’s downfall in the wake of letting Cersei run wild in Westeros. Considering that Olenna seems to have been right about Daenerys trusting Tyrion too much, Jaime’s victories may not provide much comfort to him in the long term, when the White Walkers finally come!
The fact that Cersei makes a lofty promise to the Iron Bank of Braavos could also be a hint that Cersei’s brutal victories may soon find themselves giving way to an unprepared, undermanned King’s Landing when the real battle comes, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see there. Regardless, “The Queen’s Justice” was an especially excellent Game of Thrones episode, and one that delivered on virtually every front! More long-awaited story resolutions were finally realized here, as Jon and Daenerys finally meet, Ellaria and Olenna finally get their just desserts for crossing Cersei, and even Daenerys’ plans to take Casterly Rock seem to have fallen through, just as her plans to surround King’s Landing fell through. As much as Tyrion has failed to anticipate Daenerys’ misfortunes in more than one respect however, he is right when he says that she will need allies, especially as her resources in Westeros continue to dwindle. With Jon’s warnings about the White Walkers so far falling on deaf ears anywhere outside of the North though, it could very well be too late for anyone in the South to be ready for what’s to come. At least Jon is getting a good jump on that Dragonglass forging though!
Game of Thrones' seventh season hit an excellent high note this week, as Jon and Daenerys finally meet, and Cersei continues to exact brutal vengeance on her enemies.
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THE GOOD STUFF
Jon/Daenerys introduction is dramatic, powerful and memorable
Cersei's brutal conquests and punishment of Ellaria
Bran finding his way back to Winterfell, even if he's not staying