***Spoiler Warning – This recap article has spoilers from the episode.***
“Eastwatch” picks up shortly after the ending of last week’s “The Spoils of War.” Somewhere down the river from the wreckage of the Lannister loot train, Bronn pops up out of the water, gasping for air – and pulling a gasping Jaime up from below (hooray, he lives!). After Bronn gets them both safely onto land, he questions Jaime’s motives back at the loot train; why the hell would he charge at Dany with her dragon right beside her? However, to Bronn’s irritation, Jaime is fairly nonchalant about the whole ordeal.
“’Til I get what I’m owed, a dragon doesn’t get to kill you,” Bronn says. “You don’t get to kill you. Only I get to kill you.”
But knowing that there are more important things to worry about than the wrath of Bronn, Jaime grimly mentions the fact that Dany only brought one of her dragons to the loot train…and she has three. Realizing the severity of the situation, Jaime announces that he has to tell Cersei what he and Bronn just witnessed.
Back at what was once the loot train, Tyrion walks through the charred ruins of the battlefield as the Dothraki round up the remaining men from the Lannister army and bring them forth to face Dany…and Drogon. As the men gather before her, Dany offers them a choice: “Bend the knee and join me … or refuse, and die.”
Initially, a small number of men kneel before her…but more follow suit when Drogon roars loudly in their direction. However, the Tarlys refuse to kneel; as Randyll notes, Cersei was born and raised in Westeros, but Dany is a foreigner to him (despite her Targaryen name). Desperate not to repeat the wreckage from the loot train, Tyrion quickly advises that Dany send him to the Wall as punishment…but Randyll refuses to accept these terms, stating that she cannot do so because she isn’t “his queen.” Moreover, despite Tyrion’s protests, Dickon refuses to leave his father’s side…so both will face their punishment together.
Meanwhile, Jaime returns to King’s Landing and rushes to see Cersei in her chambers. Having already heard the news of what transpired on the road, Cersei claims that even though they may have lost a good number of men, they have the Tyrell gold and the Iron Bank backing them now, so they can just buy mercenaries. However, Jaime tells her that after seeing the Dothraki fight and witnessing Drogon’s destruction, mercenaries will do them no good; they can’t win this war.
Cersei responds by telling him that suing for peace isn’t an option, as Dany currently has the upper hand…and Jaime is the person who killed her father, after all. She claims that their only solution would then be to have Tyrion intercede on their behalf…though he’d have to apologize for killing Joffrey and Tywin first.
It is at this point that Jaime reveals the truth to her from “The Queen’s Justice” – it was Olenna Tyrell who killed Joffrey, not Tyrion. He explains the reasoning behind it to Cersei: Tommen was an easier target for Margaery to control than Joffrey was, which technically allowed for Olenna to have the most power in the Seven Kingdoms. As Cersei realizes that this is true, Jaime notes that everyone from House Tyrell is dead and that he doesn’t want House Lannister to follow suit…but Cersei says that they will fight (or submit) and die.
Back at Dragonstone, Jon stands out on the edge of a cliff, staring into the sky as Dany and Drogon return. They land in the grass behind Jon and Drogon charges towards him, roaring. However, as he approaches Jon, he relaxes, sniffing. Jon carefully extends a hand, and Drogon allows him to pet his snout. Dany watches this from the dragon’s back in awe.
After a moment, Dany dismounts, and Drogon flies off to join his brothers in the sky. She explains to Jon that no matter how big – or terrifying – the dragons get, they will always be her “children.” She also reveals that she now has fewer enemies than before; aware of Jon’s possible disapproval on the matter, she tries to explain her decision to use Drogon against the Lannisters in terms that he will understand. She tells him that they are both trying to protect their people, but they can only do so if they are coming about it from a position of “strength.”
“Sometimes, strength is terrible,” she says.
Dany then inquires about Davos’ earlier comment about Jon having been stabbed through the heart…but before Jon can answer, the two are interrupted by some Dothraki men – and Jorah! Thrilled that Jorah has returned to her cured from his Greyscale, she embraces him…and introduces him to Jon (and the tension between the two men is palpable right off the bat).
At Winterfell’s weirwood tree, Bran sends ravens north of the Wall, warging into them to find the Night King and his army. He is able to seal in on their position before the Night King senses Bran’s presence, breaking Bran’s warged state by making eye contact with the birds. Bran himself turns to Maester Wolkan, telling him that ravens must be sent out at once.
At the Citadel, the archmaester holds a small council over one of Bran’s ravens in an attempt to decide how to best handle the matter. As the maesters discuss its contents, Sam enters the room, carrying a stack of books. He goes about his duties and listens to the conversation at hand, realizing that the raven is from Bran, that the Night King’s army is getting closer, and that the maesters aren’t taking any of it seriously.
Voicing his opinion to the archmaester, Sam reveals that he was the one who originally let Bran past the Wall a few years back. Sam states that if Bran was able to survive out there for all that time on his own, it might be worth listening to his words instead of simply writing them off. Moreover, Sam argues that if the archmaester takes the raven seriously and alerts people to the severity of the situation, it will better their chances of defeating the dead.
Responding to Sam’s words, the archmaester says he believes the contents of Bran’s raven could be true…but there is also a chance that it was sent by Daenerys in a ploy to gain control of the land families would be leaving behind. The other maesters all agree that this is more likely – but Sam continues to persist, so the archmaester agrees to write to Maester Wolkan to clarify the issue. As Sam departs, the archmaester reveals that he is sitting on the knowledge of the death of Sam’s father and brother at Dany’s hands; he hasn’t had the heart to tell Sam just yet.
Back at Dragonstone, Varys holds a scroll in his hand from Winterfell (AKA: Bran’s raven to them) as he and Tyrion sit and discuss Dany’s choice regarding Randyll (and Dickon) Tarly over a bottle of wine. Tyrion tries to talk himself into believing that the decision was necessary; “What else could she do?” he asks.
“Not burn him alive alongside his son?” Varys suggests.
Tyrion notes that he can only give Dany advice; he can’t make her decisions for her. Varys says that he experienced similar difficulties under the Mad King. He agrees that Dany will never become her father if she is given proper council – but Tyrion must find a way to make her listen in order to do so.
Later, Jon reads the raven from Bran in Dragonstone’s small council room. He tells the room that he thought Arya and Bran were both dead – though Dany notes that he doesn’t seem happy that they are alive. Jon reveals that this is because the letter describes the Night King’s close proximity to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. If the army breaches the Wall, they are doomed – so Jon needs to go home and fight, even though he doesn’t have enough men to do so.
Dany states that she can’t abandon the war against Cersei to help Jon, but Tyrion suggests that there might be another solution: if they can prove to Cersei that the undead army exists, perhaps they can come to a temporary truce so they can all fight the Night King together. But in order to prove the army’s existence to Cersei, they will need to capture a wight and bring it to King’s Landing. And while Varys states that Cersei could potentially decide to kill them all upon entering the city, Tyrion argues that Jaime might listen to him…and Cersei will listen to Jaime.
From there, a plan is formed: Davos will smuggle Tyrion into the city to offer the terms to Jaime – and both Jon and Jorah will plan on going beyond the Wall to capture a wight (hopefully with the help of Tormund and the Free Folk). Dany’s concern is etched all over her face but because Jon is the only one who has fought the undead and who knows what they are up against, she reluctantly agrees to the plan.
Meanwhile, at Winterfell, Sansa hears the Northern lords at council. The lords argue that the King in the North should be in the North, and that they should have placed her in charge instead. As Arya observes the scene from the side of the room, Sansa politely tells them that Jon is their King and that he is doing what he believes is the best move for all of them.
Afterwards, Sansa and Arya discuss what transpired during the meeting. Sansa voices that she had warned Jon about the possibility of this happening; it’s not an easy task for her to hold the North for him because the Northern lords are “proud.” As they enter Sansa’s chambers, Arya notes that the room used to belong to their parents before diving into her real question: why did Sansa sit there while the lords complained about Jon? Sansa explains to Arya that it is her duty to listen to them as acting lady of Winterfell – and if they are offended, Jon will lose his Northern army.
“Not if they lose their heads first,” Arya responds (which is exactly the same mistake Robb Stark made with the Karstarks back in season 3; viewers may recall that he beheaded Lord Rickard for killing Tywin Lannister’s nephews against the advice of all of his advisors, leading to the entire Karstark forces dropping out of his army – and to the infamous Red Wedding).
Sansa attempts to explain to Arya that they had to take both Winterfell and their liege lords back from their enemies and that they can’t work together by killing one another. However, Arya responds by claiming that Sansa only wants to keep herself in the lords’ good graces because she is hoping Jon won’t return and that Winterfell will be hers.
Elsewhere, Tyrion and Davos land on the shores of King’s Landing, and Davos advises Tyrion on how to sneak into the Red Keep before heading off to attend to his own “business” in Flea Bottom.
Beneath the Red Keep, Bronn leads Jaime to a session to “train” his sword hand, though Jaime inquires as to why they are training underground. Of course, that’s not the real purpose; Bronn has actually led him to a meeting with Tyrion. As Bronn departs, things are clearly tense between the two brothers. As Tyrion attempts to explain his actions (re: killing Tywin), Jaime cuts him off, asking what he wants. After a pause, Tyrion explains that while Dany will win the war, she wants to suspend the fight for the time being…if Cersei will agree to the terms at hand.
Outside in Flea Bottom, Davos visits the Street of Steel, stopping at a particular smithy – where he finds Gendry! FINALLY!
“I wasn’t sure I’d find you,” Davos says. “Thought you might still be rowing.” HA! Same here, Davos. Same here!
Davos goes on to ask Gendry if he’s had any trouble in the city (being Robert Baratheon’s bastard son with a price on his head and all), but Gendry reveals that he has been arming Lannisters for a while now without a second glance from anyone. However, Davos notes that Gendry will never truly be safe right under his enemies’ noses, and Gendry quickly gathers that Davos wants to take him wherever he (Davos) is going. Without asking for an explanation, he prepares to leave the shop, stating that he’s always been ready for this; after all, he will never be happy serving the people who murdered his father (and who tried to murder him). Davos tells Gendry that he will need a sword, but Gendry states that he’s not a swordsman – and pulls out a giant hammer. Like father, like son?
Back at the boat, Davos and Gendry prepare to leave – but two Gold Cloaks (AKA: men of the City Watch) soon approach them. Davos pays them the (ridiculously high) price of 15 Gold Dragons apiece to keep them quiet…but they linger, curious to know what they have stored in the boat. Davos shows them bags of fermented crabs inside (a nice cover story), telling them that the food is an aphrodisiac and convincing them to each eat some. However, just as they are leaving for a brothel, Tyrion arrives…and they recall Cersei’s call for his head back when he escaped the city after killing Tywin. Davos offers to pay them off once more…but it is Gendry to the rescue this time, as he smashes both of their heads in with his hammer (ahh, Gendry…I’ve missed you!).
Meanwhile, Jaime enters Cersei’s chambers, interrupting her conversation with Qyburn (who promptly exits). Jaime reveals his secret meeting with Tyrion to her, explaining that Dany wants to meet in order to make a truce because of the imminent threat of the Night King’s army (and that Tyrion will bring them proof of this). Cersei then asks if Jaime will punish Bronn; in other words, she already knew that he and Tyrion had met in private. She tells Jaime that she let it happen because a truce could actually pay to their benefit.
“Whatever stands in our way, we will defeat it,” she says, and she reveals to Jaime that she’s…pregnant?!?!? She tells Jaime that he will be publicly announced as the father this time. They kiss and embrace, and both seem happy…until…
“Never betray me again,” Cersei says. Well, there’s an underlying threat like no other!
Back at Dragonstone, Davos and Gendry return as Jon and Jorah are preparing for their trek to the Wall. Davos introduces Gendry to Jon…but despite Davos’ wishes, Gendry reveals his parentage immediately.
“Our fathers trusted each other,” Gendry says. “Why shouldn’t we?” (I can’t help but notice the irony in his words, because Jon’s birth father was Rhaegar… who was killed by Robert.)
Later, Jon, Jorah, Gendry and Davos ready for their departure. Tyrion approaches Jorah, handing him the coin that the slaver rewarded Tyrion with back when the two were captured together in season 5 – and telling Jorah to “bring it back.” Dany then comes forward to say farewell to both Jorah and Jon – and as the group sets sail and Jorah looks back at her one last time, the concern reappears on Dany’s face.
Elsewhere, at the Citadel, Gilly reads aloud facts from a log kept by High Septon Maynard as Sam works across the table from her, fairly uninterested in what she is saying. She then inquires about the meaning of the word “annulment,” stating that Maynard issued one for Prince “Ragger” and remarried him to another woman at the same time in a secret ceremony somewhere in Dorne and…oh my god, what? Did Gilly, who couldn’t read a few seasons ago, just tell us that Rhaegar and Lyanna’s union was legitimized – making Jon the true heir to the throne?
But in what might be the most ironic moment of the series yet, Sam (who is often regarded as one of Game of Thrones’ smartest characters) completely ignores this, interrupting Gilly with his frustration; after all, the maesters have given him mundane tasks to accomplish, but it isn’t helping them in the fight against the Night King at all (but, Sam – the annulment! Rhaegar! Jon! Ahh, forget it…the moment’s gone).
Later that evening, Sam sneaks into the restricted section of the library, stealing some books and taking a sad glance back at the room before departing. He leaves Oldtown with Gilly and little Sam that night.
“I’m tired of reading about the achievements of better men,” he says.
At Winterfell, Arya keeps close tabs on Littlefinger, following his movements through the courtyard and into the castle. There, she sees Maester Wolkan hand a scroll off to him outside of Sansa’s chambers. Littlefinger enters the room, closing the door behind him…but he emerges shortly after, no longer holding the scroll in his hand.
After Littlefinger has seemingly departed, Arya sneaks into Sansa’s bedroom herself, looking everywhere in the room for the scroll – until she finds it hidden in a torn seam in Sansa’s bed. Opening it, she realizes that it is a letter written from Sansa to Robb, asking him to come to King’s Landing and bend the knee to Joffrey (viewers may recall that Cersei forced Sansa to write this letter back in season 1 and that Littlefinger was present in the room when it occurred – though Arya does not know any of this).
Pocketing the scroll, Arya exits the room and locks the door behind her…but as she walks off, the viewer closes in on Littlefinger, who is creeping on her from around the corner (making it clear that placing the scroll in Sansa’s room is a part of some plan of his to drive a wedge between the sisters).
North of Winterfell, Jon and Co. arrive at Eastwatch and meet with Tormund to discuss their strategy. While Tormund will provide some Free Folk for the mission, all agree that they do not have enough men to head beyond the Wall…but Tormund claims that a few others want to go out as well.
Leading the group to a cell, he reveals that he has been holding Sandor, Beric and Thoros, who they found nearby recently; the three claimed that they wanted to go out beyond the Wall. Jon quickly remembers Sandor as “the Hound” from Winterfell back when he saw him in episode 1, and Gendry is quick to voice his wariness; after all, the Brotherhood sold him to Melisandre back in season 3 (which is why Davos had to set him free – and why we’ve all thought he’s been rowing this whole time!). Moreover, things begin to get tense between Tormund and Jorah when Tormund realizes that Jorah is a Mormont – just like the former Lord Commander, who used to hunt down the Free Folk.
However, Beric voices the thought that they are all here for the same purpose and should work together despite their differences – and Jon agrees. After all, they are all on the same side: the side of the living.
Later, as the gate opens to let them out beyond the Wall, the group heads out together after a pause, with Jon leading the way.
Personally, I thought that this episode had its ups and downs. For example, I really loved the re-introduction of Gendry, the meeting between Jaime and Tyrion, the subtle mention of Rhaegar’s secret marriage, etc. However, I felt like the rapid pacing of this season really caught up with me this week with how fast characters were traveling from one place to another (i.e. Jon and Co. from Dragonstone to the Wall, Davos and Tyrion from Dragonstone to King’s Landing and back, etc.). Because there was so much of this in this particular episode, I couldn’t help but notice the fact that traveling from one place to another took so much longer in earlier seasons. It made me wonder if this season could have benefitted more from ten episodes rather than from seven…but, of course, that opinion could change over the next two weeks, and I am intrigued to see where the final two episodes will take us.
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