***Spoiler Warning – This recap article has spoilers from the episode.***
With Game of Thrones heading faster and faster into the ultimate climax (and eventual conclusion) of the series, season seven’s third episode (“The Queen’s Justice”) continues at the rapid pace presented to viewers in episode two (“Stormborn”). “The Queen’s Justice” opens to waves crashing on a beach; Jon, Davos, and their small group of Northern men have arrived at Dragonstone. They are greeted by Tyrion and Missandei, as well as by several Dothraki warriors. After exchanging introductions and pleasantries, Missandei asks that Jon, Davos, and the others surrender their weapons; Jon and Davos exchange a look, but they agree to do as she asks (and for some reason, this is seriously reminding me of The Walking Dead and every first interaction Rick Grimes & Co. have ever had with a new group).
On their ascent to the castle above, Tyrion and Jon catch up a bit, since they haven’t seen each other since traveling to the Wall together back in season one. Tyrion inquires about Sansa, confirming to Jon that their marriage was unconsummated. They also briefly discuss Sansa’s survival tactics, as well as their own changing statuses in their rise to power. Suddenly, Drogon swoops low over their heads; the group ducks, and Jon and Davos stare in awe as they watch all three dragons circling the castle overhead.
Atop the castle, Melisandre observes Jon & Co.’s ascent below. Varys approaches her and inquires as to why she did not greet the Northerners at the beach; after all, she was the one who adamantly suggested that Dany summon Jon Snow. Melisandre claims that she has already done her duty, as she has brought “ice and fire together.” However, she also reveals to Varys that she did not part on good terms with Jon and Davos because of her past mistakes (and to be honest, I’m pretty sure that anyone on Dragonstone would probably agree that burning an innocent child alive is never okay). She tells Varys that she will head for Volantis next – but she will return to Westeros in the future, since she is destined to die there…as is Varys. As Melisandre parts, Varys ponders this – and sees a Greyjoy ship approaching the castle.
In Dragonstone’s throne room, the moment has finally arrived: Jon and Dany are introduced to one another for the first time (and it’s pretty hysterical as Missandei goes through all of Dany’s titles, because Davos responds by introducing Jon in quite the typical “Davos” fashion: “This is Jon Snow. He’s King in the North.”). There is tension between the two right off the bat, as Dany notes that the Starks swore fealty to the Targaryens long ago and therefore, there should be no King in the North now; however, Jon tells her that he is not there to bend the knee to her. Though Dany argues that she should not be held accountable for her father’s actions towards Jon’s family and that there were previously years of peace with a Targaryen on the Iron Throne and a Stark as Warden of the North, Jon argues that he is not “beholden” to his ancestor’s vows – and that he is only there because they need each other’s help.
Not fully understanding, Dany inquires as to what Jon means by this. Jon states that she does not need his help to take King’s Landing from Cersei, as he and Davos believe that can be done fairly easily…even by strategizing to minimize the harm to the public, as Dany appears to be doing. Rather, Jon is there because the Night King’s army is heading south, and they will all perish if the houses continue to bicker and “play” at the game of thrones like children rather than to unite against their common enemy (and now, with the mention of the Night King’s undead army, this is really reminding me of The Walking Dead!).
While Tyrion agrees that he does not believe Jon to be crazy or a liar, Dany is skeptical and insulted at being called a “child.” She describes what her life has been like so far to Jon; from being exiled to sold and raped, her faith in herself has always kept her alive. She claims that this faith is what brought dragons back into the world and what has allowed the Dothraki to cross the Narrow Sea for the first time in history. “I was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms,” she says, “and I will.”
“You’ll be ruling over a graveyard if we don’t defeat the Night King,” Jon responds. And while Tyrion argues that they cannot just drop the war against Cersei after it has already begun, Davos steps up to name Jon’s own life accomplishments; after all, he became both the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and the King in the North because his people believe in him (he has no “birthright” like Dany does, because he is a bastard). Davos describes how Jon has risked his life for his people, even taking a knife in the heart for them – but Jon stops Davos just short of revealing his subsequent death (and resurrection).
Coming off of Davos’ speech, Jon states that there is no time to bend the knee; plus, he doesn’t know Dany, and he believes that her whole claim to the throne rests on her father’s name…and her father was overthrown. Dany comes back by stating that she is the rightful queen of the Seven Kingdoms…and that Jon is in open rebellion by declaring himself to be the King in the North.
Suddenly, Varys enters the room and approaches Dany, whispering something into her ear. Dany considers whatever she has just been told, and then announces that Jon, Davos, and their men will be given food and lodging for the time being…though they are not her prisoners just yet. Once Jon and Co. have exited, Varys reveals to Dany, Missandei, and Tyrion that their Iron Born and Dornish allies were attacked at sea by Euron Greyjoy’s fleet. Only two or three ships managed to escape the wreckage, with Yara, Theon, Ellaria, and the Sand Snakes all said to be dead or captured.
Elsewhere, at sea, Theon is pulled out of the water by men on a ship with a kraken banner; this is one the few ships of Yara’s that survived the attack. Shivering on the deck above, Theon reveals to the men that Yara has been taken by Euron.
Cut to King’s Landing, where Euron rides on horseback through the streets to an adoring and cheering crowd, his prisoners following close behind him. As Euron taunts Yara about Theon’s behavior during the attack, pulling her along by a leash, the crowd throws trash at Ellaria and Tyene, who are chained and trailing behind them.
Arriving to the throne room, Euron presents Cersei with the gift of Ellaria and Tyene, claiming that he is delivering them as justice for Myrcella’s murder. Cersei declares that Euron has proven himself to the crown…and that she will marry him “when the war is won” (as poor Jaime looks on at the scene from the side like a sad puppy). She turns to the crowd and proclaims that with Euron defending the seas and Jaime commanding their armies, the citizens of King’s Landing will be properly defended. As the crowd cheers, Euron taunts Jaime about his relationship with Cersei before leaving the room with his own prisoner (Yara) and the rest of his crew.
Later, Ellaria and Tyene have been chained opposite one another in the dungeons below the Red Keep. Accompanied by Qyburn and the (undead) Mountain, Cersei confronts the women, reminding Ellaria of the events that transpired on the day of Oberyn’s death. She notes that Oberyn’s pride is what ultimately led to his own demise…and yet the Mountain, who was poisoned by Oberyn’s spear, is still “alive” even though he should be dead (but as we all know, Qyburn is the one responsible for this, because he is basically the Westerosi version of Dr. Frankenstein). Cersei then inquires as to why Ellaria killed Myrcella, though she states that the reason doesn’t really matter.
Cersei further notes how beautiful Tyene is and asks if she is Ellaria’s favorite. She goes on to state that she has stayed up many nights imagining the best way in which to destroy Ellaria, and it would appear that she has finally made her decision: Cersei kisses Tyene on the lips, poisoning her… just as Ellaria did to Myrcella. As Ellaria and Tyene realize what has happened, Cersei drinks the antidote and states that Qyburn discovered the exact poison they used to kill Myrcella; confirming this, Qyburn says that it may take hours or days, but that Tyene’s death is now inevitable. Meanwhile, Ellaria will be chained to the wall opposite Tyene for the rest of her life, being forced to watch her daughter die in front of her and reflect on all of her choices.
Upstairs in Cersei’s quarters, Jaime sits at the table. Cersei soon enters, kissing him and beginning to engage in other – ahem – activities with him. The next morning, the two wake up in her bed. There is a knock at the door and despite Jaime’s protests, Cersei rises to answer it; after all, she is now the queen, so she no longer cares if people see them together like this. Opening the door, Cersei’s handmaiden reveals that a visitor from Braavos has arrived.
Soon after, Cersei meets with their Braavosi visitor: Tycho Nestoris, from the Iron Bank. After exchanging formal pleasantries, Cersei cuts to the chase: she knows that the crown is still in debt to the Iron Bank and that they want their gold back. Nestoris confirms this, inquiring as to what she plans to do in order to repay them; after all, the vaults at Casterly Rock are empty, and the Tyrells (the second-richest family in Westeros) have now sided with House Targaryen. As such, he wonders if Cersei is still the Bank’s best investment; after all, Dany currently has three dragons.
Wasting no time, Cersei states that the dragons are not indestructible (you know, in case anyone had forgotten Qyburn’s dragon-sized crossbow from last week), and that Dany was the cause of the fall of the slave trade…which they both agree has greatly affected the Bank’s profits for the worse. Cersei promises that if Nestoris gives her a fortnight, the crown’s debt will be paid “in full.”
Meanwhile, on Dragonstone, Tyrion joins a brooding Jon Snow, who is staring out at the ocean outside. Jon states that with his ship having been taken by Dany’s men, he and his own men are basically prisoners at Dragonstone…though Tyrion argues otherwise. Jon says that he knows his story about the Night King’s army is difficult to fathom, but Tyrion believes him because he trusts the word and the eyes of honest men (like Jon and Lord Commander Mormont, who had also seen the undead army). However, Tyrion states that most minds cannot grasp such a concept very easily, so Jon should not give up on Dany just yet; rather, Tyrion advises that Jon inquire with Dany’s people as to her true character…and he asks if there is anything reasonable that he can do to help Jon out for the time being.
Afterwards, Tyrion meets with Dany in the council room upstairs with Jon’s request: to mine the dragonglass that sits beneath Dragonstone in order to create weapons to use against the White Walkers. Dany is hesitant to agree to this at first, but Tyrion tells her that he believes Jon’s story about the Night King; after all, Jon made the journey to Dragonstone, even though any advisor would have told him not to. Tyrion argues that Dany should allow Jon to mine the glass because it is nothing to her; she didn’t even know of its presence until now. Plus, he believes that by doing so, Dany will be taking the first step towards making a more productive alliance with the North…and with the Iron Born and Dorne seemingly out of the picture, they need a strong ally now more than ever.
Later, Jon approaches Dany outside as she watches her dragons circle overhead. Dany states that dragons only existed in memory until she brought them back into the world; therefore, perhaps it would be productive for everyone to “examine what we think we know.” She then tells Jon that she will allow him to mine the dragonglass, providing him with whatever resources he may need to complete the task. Jon thanks her.
At Winterfell, Sansa makes preparations for the long winter with her advisors: i.e. planning to secure sufficient grain, to put leather on breastplates, etc. Once they are alone, Littlefinger notes that Sansa is well-suited for command; he goes on to advise that in order to have continued success, she should fight every battle in her mind and play out all possible outcomes in her head so that she is always prepared. Suddenly, their conversation is interrupted as Sansa is summoned to the gate; it is Bran and Meera! Seeing her younger brother for the first time since season one, Sansa embraces him.
Later, sitting under the Weirwood tree, Sansa and Bran catch up with one another. She notes that as Ned’s last trueborn son, Bran is the Lord of Winterfell; however, Bran states that he can never be a lord, since he is the Three-Eyed Raven. Sansa doesn’t understand this and asks him to explain. Bran claims that he can see every event from the past and present; however, he drives the point home by telling her how sorry he is for what happened to her recently at Winterfell, stating how beautiful she was on her wedding night to Ramsay (before things turned ugly, of coruse). With Bran deciding to stay under the tree for a while longer, Sansa departs for the castle, sufficiently freaked out by her brother’s abilities.
At the Citadel, the archmaester inspects Jorah, who is completely cured of his greyscale. Protecting Sam, Jorah claims that it must be due to rest and the climate; however, not believing this, the archmaester departs, asking to see Sam in his study that evening. Jorah offers his thanks to Sam, telling him that he now plans to reunite with Dany. Sam offers his hand and Jorah shakes it, now disease-free.
That evening, the archmaester scolds Sam in his study; after all, he specifically forbade Sam from performing the procedure, and Sam did it anyways. However, Sam was successful in curing Jorah of greyscale, and the archmaester inquires as to how that was possible. “I read the book and followed the instructions,” Sam says (to which I am literally laughing out loud). The archmaester smiles, telling Sam that he should be proud of his accomplishment…and then sends him back to his duties as a maester-in-training, since his only reward is the fact that he hasn’t been expelled!
Back at Dragonstone, Dany meets with Tyrion, Missandei, and Varys in her council room. She claims that she would like to head after Euron’s fleet with her dragons; however, Missandei and Tyrion both note that this would be too dangerous, as it would only take one stray arrow to kill her. Besides, the Unsullied are off to take Casterly Rock. Though the Lannister army knows they are coming and are well-trained – and though Casterly Rock’s gates are impregnable – Tyrion reveals to the council that he was the one who built the sewer system…along with a secret entrance for his women (because of course he did)! As such, Grey Worm and a small team will enter the castle from there, fighting their way to open the gates for the rest of the Unsullied. Tyrion believes that this tactic will lead them to victory, as even though the Unsullied will be outnumbered, they will be fighting for freedom…and for the person who led them to it (Dany).
However, as these events transpire at Casterly Rock and the battle is seemingly over, Grey Worm states that there should have been a lot more men present; where is the rest of the Lannister army? Suddenly, he looks out to sea; Euron’s fleet has arrived, and all of the Unsullied ships are on fire.
Meanwhile, in a surprise attack, the bulk force of the Lannister army marches on Highgarden, led by Jaime (which is reflective of Robb Stark’s tactic back in season one, in which he tricked the Lannister army by sending the bulk of his forces to the Whispering Wood, a move that resulted in Jaime’s own capture). They take the castle quite easily, after which Jaime meets with Lady Olenna inside. He confirms that the Tyrell army fought as well as could be expected, and he sits with Olenna as she inquires as to why they allowed the Unsullied to take Casterly Rock. Jaime responds that the Targaryen army can’t hold the Rock for long; after all, Euron has burned their ships and their larders have been emptied, so they will be forced to flee before long.
Olenna then calmly inquires as to how Jaime plans to kill her, stating that while she did unspeakable things to protect House Tyrell, Cersei has truly done the unimaginable in the name of her own family. She claims that Cersei is a “monster” and that Jaime is a “fool” because he is in love with her. “She’ll be the end of you,” Olenna says to Jaime (possible foreshadowing, much?). Jaime reluctantly admits that things with Cersei have gone beyond his own control, and Olenna claims that Jaime will someday regret his own role in Cersei’s rise to power…as she now regrets her own role in the same.
Inquiring again about her death, Jaime reveals to Olenna that he was able to sway Cersei away from brutality (i.e. drawing and quartering); instead, he pours a painless poison into a glass of wine, offering it to Olenna to drink from. Olenna gulps the glass down without hesitation; setting it aside as she finishes, she notes how horrible Joffrey’s death by poison was. And, revealing that she was the one who poisoned him, she states that the results were not what she had intended; after all, she had never seen the particular poison’s effects before that day.
“Tell Cersei,” she says, staring Jaime down. “I want her to know it was me.” Considering this, Jaime stares at Olenna for a moment…and then departs from the room, leaving her to wait out her own death at her table.
Personally, I really enjoyed this episode overall, and I thought it had a lot of very strong moments. First of all, Jon and Dany’s first meeting was pretty iconic, and I was very happy with how it played out because it was so true to both of their characters. It appeared that many people on the internet were expecting “sparks to fly” instantly between the two of them or something like that; and while I am not a Dany/Jon shipper myself, I didn’t see “sparks flying” upon their first meeting regardless of whether they end up together or not because they are both very independent, headstrong characters – so based upon that, their actions towards one another within this episode were very realistic to me.
Furthermore, I found Olenna’s final scene to be completely epic; it truly gave me the feeling that even though she was about to die, she had still “won,” in a sense. Plus, her words to Jaime regarding Cersei were very telling because for a long time now, I have believed that Jaime will be the one to kill Cersei… and that he will also perish in the process. Whether or not this happens remains to be seen, but Olenna’s words to Jaime in this episode do seem to foreshadow his and/or Cersei’s end in some way.
Finally, I’d like to give a shout out to Lena Headey, whose performance as Cersei was absolutely flawless in this episode. Whether you love her or you hate her, Cersei has only grown to be more chilling over the years, which is a testament to Lena’s talent as an actress. And after Cersei’s actions in this episode – from her interactions with Euron and Tycho Nestoris to her torture of Ellaria and Tyene to her manipulation of Jaime – I can’t wait to see what happens with her character next.
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