Spoiler Alert: The following discusses plot points from Sunday night's Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 5, "Eastwatch," written by Dave Hill and directed by Michael Shakman.
In short: Jamie and Bronn live to fight again, which sets the stage for a very unexpected Lannister reunion. Tyrion wrestles with how to keep Dany's moral compass intact. Bran sees the advancing undead army and sends messages throughout the kingdom formally warning of what's to come. Littlefinger exploits the Stark sister's frosty homecoming. And Jon Snow gets to pet a dragon!
There's no playing coy from EPs Benioff and Weiss when it comes to answering the big 7.4 cliffhanger: Jamie and Bronn start the episode alive and kicking as they escape the lake, and Dany's justice, as they slink back to King's Landing after getting their bottoms charred. Despite Bronn's exceptionally entertaining NSFW browbeating of Jamie for riding at Drogon, the pair end up missing the part where the remnants of their Lannister army are assembled by Dany and given the choice to bend the knee or die. More than I expected are hesitant to knee it, even after witnessing their brothers-in-arms get smitten to ash. In particular, Randyll Tarly and his boy, Dickon, give her the big nope. Seems Randyll doesn't like foreigners telling him what to do [insert eye-roll here]. Always a charmer. So Drogon, via Dany's "sic 'em" (dracarys, ya'll), lights the Tarlys up. The rest of the Lannister army then drop to their knees like someone opened a massive trap door. Bending, bending, m'lady. Yes, ma'am!
After four years and who knows how many rowboat jokes (guilty), Gendry "Bastard" Baratheon is back in the house! Hiding right under Cersei's nose in Flea Bottom, the sacrificial lamb is found by Davos, and man, was he ready to bolt. Davos barely asked how ya doing, and Gendry was like, "Let me get my war hammer!" and is out the door. He then used his weapon of choice to bean two nosey Goldcloaks ready to arrest Tyrion. It was the visual punchline to three seasons of Gendry's arm-muscle jokes. Well played! Nice to see a Baratheon who isn't an ass.
In Winterfell, Arya is getting super-judgey about how Sansa is talking about Jon in his absence, and that she has taken over their parent's suite as her own. Arya's been trained to look for political moves, and it's telling that she's more than ready to believe Sansa is out for herself rather than what's best for the North and the Starks overall. Of course, Littlefinger taps into that chilly fission between the estranged sisters and plays spy-Arya like a fiddle, planting a really old message that Cersei made Sansa send to Winterfell selling out her family way back in Season 1. Littlefinger knows Arya will find it, and that without context, it looks bad for Sansa. But Arya isn't stupid. Is she double-bluffing that creeper? She may not like Sansa much, but Baelish is actually on her death list, and he's asking for it. She knows he's a crafty opponent, so I'm going to bet she's playing it quasi-dumb so she doesn't show her hand too soon.
One: Drogon is okay. Whew. Two: When he and Dany arrive back at Dragonstone, we discover that Jon Snow is a dragon whisperer! So let's review: Dany is the mommy-dragon who can do anything she wants with her kids; Tyrion wasn't burned to a crisp by them; and now Jon gets to pet one without losing an arm, or his existence. Have we essentially gotten our three riders confirmed?
Last but not least is the assembly of the scruffiest group of unlikely heroes ever as Jon, Davos, Jorah, and Gendry arrive north to collect Tormund and his unexpected prisoners, The Hound, Beric Dondarrion, and Thoros to become the Icier Hateful Eight. All of them should have been dead seasons ago, so the nine lives brigade is all about going north of the Wall to collect an undead specimen for Cersei. Boy, Euron thought he won the title of "Best Gift Giver in King's Landing." Move over, jerk. If they pull this off, we might get the craziest King's Landing fight card ever -- The Mountain vs. The Wight!
"Eastwatch" is clearly an episode full of talking and setting things up for the last two episodes of the season (already!?), but it was plenty entertaining regardless. We got some dragon action at the start, so no complaining. Even HBO money needs to be paced, people.
Poor Sam. Guy is cleaning poop for ages and playing monkey boy to the Maesters. I'd leave the Citadel too. Doesn't proving he can heal greyscale at least buy him the old white guys considering him a credible corroboration of Bran's warning? Nope. I bet those old farts were totally manspreading under that table. So Sam is outta there with Gilly, Sam Jr., Heartsbane, some stolen scrolls containing more clues about how to win against the undead army ... and his damn family name still intact, thank you very much! Not a bad thing for our modest hero, who for the record is a way better man than most. It's just a bummer he wasted so much time getting Miyagi'd without much to show for it.
Cersei, are you man-trapping Jamie? Is she pregnant for real, or does she just need her brother/lover back under her thumb as he's been real independent of late? I think she's playing the last bit of good inside of him, that soft heart she can exploit at will. And Bronn, you're in trouble. The Big C is coming for you!
Things to Ponder ...
Should we be worried for Dany's soul? Is she just doing what she needs to do to contain this war, or is she truly at risk of becoming her father? I say Tyrion and Varys are a little too freaked on her behalf. She's got dragons and she used them judiciously. The Tarlys chose their fate, and that's better than most other leaders in Westeros ever give their enemies. However, Varys' admittedly cowardly past justification story of repeating "I'm not the one doing it" when Dany's father was brutalizing humanity far and wide, is a chilling reminder of what happens when no one stops the madness before it's gone too far.
What's the over/under on whether Arya is going to be happy to see Gendry, or still angry for him staying with the Brotherhood? She's got a pair of bastards to bond with in Winterfell now, if they survive north of the Wall.
Is there a triangle happening under our noses? Jon looked more than a little jelly when Jorah-interruptus came back on the scene and Dany got all warm-eyed at her loyal servant. Greyscale, schmeyscale, she sure was handsy with the man she once banished. All I gotta say is, "Jorah, don't do it, buddy. You already had to watch her with Drogo and Daario." There's only so much a heartsick man can take!
What did you think of "Eastwatch"?