Spoilers through Season 7 of “Game of Thrones’ follow.

Credit: HBO

The Queen’s Justice indeed.

Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones was given a misleading title. Far from ‘The Queen’s Justice’ this episode was all about the queen’s vengeance. 

Cersei already took vengeance on many of her enemies in Season 6, when she used wildfire to blow up the Great Sept, killing not only the High Sparrow, but also nearly all of House Tyrell and her own uncle, Kevan Lannister.

In the third episode of Season 7 she’s given Ellaria Sand and her last remaining daughter, who she poisons the same exact way Ellaria poisoned Myrcella, leaving Oberyn’s lover to live out the rest of her days alongside her own daughter’s corpse.

And Jaime and his army take Highgarden, with the help of Sam’s father and Bronn, where he gives Olenna ‘The Queen Of Thorns’ poison as a mercy, before learning that it was in fact Olenna herself who poisoned Joffrey—not Tyrion or Sansa, after all.

In a sense, this is the second meaning of ‘The Queen’s Justice.’ Yes, Cersei has lopped the heads off three of Dany’s allies and gotten her revenge on two of her powerful foes, but the Queen of Thorns gets her own justice in the end, by revealing the truth of Joffrey’s death.

This was another episode filled with great moments, genuinely funny exchanges, and miraculous fast travel. Let’s leave the Lannisters and their wildly successful military campaigns and sail across the bay to….

Dragonstone

Credit: HBO

Jon arrives at Dragonstone.

Here, on Stannis’s former island, Jon Snow and Davos Seaworth arrive. Sure enough, Tyrion is waiting for them on the shore. I mused that images hinting at this released earlier this week could have been misdirection to throw us off the true scent, but I was wrong. I was also wrong in my prediction that Jon and Daenerys wouldn’t meet until the final season. Oh well, I’ve had some on-point predictions this season as well. You have to take your wins with your losses.

In any case, Jon arrives in Dragonstone and reunites with Tyrion. This is a perfectly lovely scene, and then it gets better. We probably got more Tyrion scenes tonight than we’ve gotten in…well, a very long time. And it reminds me just how much I love Tyrion and how much more I want of him—even when he’s being outsmarted by his siblings.

Actually, this was a pretty neat twist. Tyrion stands in the battle-room of Dragonstone describing how he built a weakness into Casterly Rock (sort of like Galen Erso with the Death Star) and we see Grey Worm and the Unsullied use this exploit to capture the Lannister’s seat of power, overwhelming the Lannister forces. But even as we learn of Tyrion’s clever plan, we discover that most of the Lannister forces are gone. They’ve marched south to Highgarden, where Jaime and his forces take the prosperous, but not terribly well-defended seat of House Tyrell without much resistance.

Why is Olenna back in Highgarden, anyways? She could have raised armies with ravens. Oh well. Mistakes and more mistakes, and now Cersei is in a far stronger position than before.

It doesn’t hurt that she has Euron’s magical fleet. Speaking of which, let’s talk about…

Teleportation

Credit: HBO

Tyrion had his finest episode in a long, long time.

I’ve been complaining about magical fast travel lately, and I think at a certain point we just have to accept that Game of Thrones has simply abandoned any pretense at “sensible chronology” or “travel time” “distance” and so forth. Last week Jon Snow was in Winterfell; this week he’s at Dragonstone. And yet, it’s only after he’s at Dragonstone that Daenerys learns of the loss of Yara’s fleet and the fate of Ellaria. A battle that must have taken place only days away from Dragonstone is discovered….weeks later? It would take Jon Snow at least a couple weeks to travel all the way from Winterfell to Dragonstone, even with “kind winds.” Possibly much longer.

Meanwhile, Olenna has made it all the way around the continent to Highgarden, Grey Worm has made it all the way up to Casterly rock, which is at least a month away from Dragonstone if not longer, and Jaime has ridden from King’s Landing where Ellaria was turned over to Cersei to meet with his armies and storm and capture Highgarden.

Suffice to say, time and distance have become….arbitrary…that’s the word…these small considerations have become entirely impossible to fathom or follow. I can either gnash my teeth and rend my garments at each illogical, impossible fast travel, or I can accept that this is the Game of Thrones we now have. Gone are journeys and voyages. Gone are long, plodding adventures through the desert or the forest or the frozen north. Now, time is fluid. Our heroes just show up places. So what if the distance between Slaver’s Bay and Dragonstone is comparable to that of Dragonstone and Casterly Rock—distance is immaterial now. Time is a fiction.

So I’ll do my best to let it go. It’s a small world, after all.

Bend The Knee

Credit: HBO

Daenerys really likes talking about how awesome she is.

In any case, we were in Dragonstone, and in Dragonstone we shall remain.

Jon arrives and meets the Queen. Missandei introduces her with all her glorious titles and accomplishments. When she’s done, Davos awkwardly announces Jon as…Jon Snow, King in the North.

The first meeting between Jon and Dany is a frosty one. Jon, bless his soul, refuses to ‘bend the knee’—something that Daenerys is oddly intent on getting him to do. They trade barbs. Daenerys talks up all her achievements, her steely resolve and fiery faith in herself. Her struggles. She imagines, I suppose, that her struggles are unique, and misinterprets Jon’s own lack of boasting as a lack of struggle on his part.

You know nothing, Daenerys Targaryen. I suppose you’ll learn. Soon enough.

Tyrion, naturally, is the savior here. He convinces Jon to ask him what he needs, and then convinces Daenerys to let Jon mine the dragonglass. That’s a step in the right direction, and at least nobody is being burned alive.

It’s interesting, though. Daenerys is warring between two sides. On the one hand, she’s coming across as an icy tyrant who’s become far too arrogant and entitled for her own good. I don’t blame Jon for not trusting her, and I admire his refusal to call her queen.

On the other hand, I’m quite certain that Dany means well, and wants only the best for the realm she believes she’s destined to rule. You can hardly blame her for not believing Jon Snow’s tales of an army of the dead. Nobody believed about the dragons, either, of course. She should consider that before dismissing the Night King.

Meanwhile, in the Frozen North….

Credit: HBO

That one may smile and smile and be a villain.

Sansa is showing off her leadership skills by constantly thinking of things that old men who have lots more experience than her aren’t thinking of. She even knows more about blacksmithing (specifically smithing breastplates) than her smiths.

What she isn’t prepared for is the return of her younger brother, Bran, who arrives for a joyful reunion—only, just a little too late for the joy. Bran has changed, not just from when Sansa last saw him, but from when we last saw him. Over the intervening…time?…he’s become the Three-Eyed Raven entirely. Much of his humanity appears to have drained from him.

When he talks to Sansa and tells her what he becomes, he says he’s sorry for what’s happened to her. He speaks of her wedding night (I assume with Ramsay) and there’s no malice in his voice. But it’s still a brutal memory to dredge up, and yet he speaks with almost no emotion. Sansa understandably flees. No matter how glad she may be to see her brother again after all this time, he’s no longer the Bran she once knew.

I keep wanting happy reunions between these Stark children, so long separated by tragedy and betrayal. Each time, it’s bittersweet. I suppose it could be no other way, but I hope they all realize that in the end they’re all they have. Littlefinger tells Sansa to trust no one. “Everyone is your enemy, everyone is your friend” is a lie. Jon Snow is someone Sansa can trust unconditionally; Littlefinger is a viper.

Varys and Melisandre

One of the most interesting scenes in the entire episode took place between Varys ‘The Spider’ and the red witch, Melisandre. Varys is curious why she’s hidden herself when Jon and Davos arrive, and won’t accept vague answers like “my days whispering in kings’ ears are over.”

He almost certainly already knows the answer to his questions and is well aware of Stannis’s crimes. He tells Melisandre to leave and not come back, as Westeros won’t be safe for her. Curiously, she tells him she must return one day. She’s destined to die in Westeros, as is Varys. What do you think that means? Something she’s seen in the flames?

I wonder also if Varys has any inkling of Jon Snow’s death and resurrection. He’s not present when Davos let’s slip that Jon took a ‘dagger in the heart’ for his people. Jon is quick to shut Davos up, but not before Daenerys takes notice, confronting Tyrion about the odd statement later on. Have Varys’s little birds told him about Jon’s magical return to the land of the living? I’m guessing not, though I’m also curious how such an incredible thing could go unnoticed this long. Surely rumors of his death have preceded him.

Verdict

All told, a far better episode than last week. Yes, it still drives me crazy how fast and loose Game of Thrones has become with its plotting and travel times. They’re taking far more liberties in this regard than they should.

On the other hand, I loved all the Tyrion we got this week. I miss Tyrion. He’s one of the best things about Game of Thrones and until tonight he’s played far too minor a role for far too long.

It was also gratifying to see Jon Snow not only meet Daenerys Stormborn, but not be cowed by her. He tells her straight to her face that her father killed his grandfather and uncle and that he owes her nothing. I also loved the exchange between Jon and Dany when he tells her Tyrion talks a lot. “We all enjoy what we’re good at” she replies. “Not me,” he answers. Jon Snow is good at killing, but he doesn’t like it. He’s a reluctant leader, a reluctant hero with no time for boasting, and no time for the ‘game of thrones’ everyone else is playing.

He’s the hero we need, dammit, not the one we deserve.

I also enjoyed Euron this episode. He’s not Ramsay, that’s for sure. He’s not Joffrey either. He’s a rogue, a swashbuckler and a man unafraid to poke at Jaime Lannister. And he has a magical fleet of ships capable of traveling the seas at light speed. What’s not to love?

But seriously, his goading of Jaime over how best to make love to Cersei was pretty funny.

Oh, and lest we forget, I enjoyed the scene between the Arch Maester, Sam and Jorah Mormont. Jorah is cured! It’s a miracle! And Sam isn’t in trouble, though he’s also not being rewarded for his mad healing skills.

So I guess Jorah is going back to Dany. What’s his purpose in all of this? I can’t figure this out. What’s the point of Jorah now? He was a spy, a traitor, a hopeless suitor, and then a leper. What is he now? What will he achieve?

Let me know what you think in the comments, fellow Game of Thrones fans. I’m just happy this episode was so much better than last weeks.

You can read my review of last week’s episode here. I also wrote a follow-up piece explaining my issues with the show’s plot here.

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