Now that I’ve had a couple days to digest the season premiere episode, and recover from my mortality pool picks not garnering a single point for me this week (though I’m not alone since no one saw small Ned Umber being the one death of the entire episode), I’m ready for a follow up tear down of this week’s Game of Thrones.
The episode, simply titled Winterfell earns that name by being largely focused on the action building around the Northern keep. As far as table setting episodes go, it wasn’t without fan service and a lot of satisfying moments and encounters. I’m going to discuss my favorites that I think are most important, but I’ll be starting outside of Winterfell in King’s Landing:
Cersei & Euron
In my pre-season predictions post, I floated the idea of Cersei finding a way to ally herself with the Night King. One of the biggest moments of this week’s premiere lends basis to that being a valid route for the character even if I’m still not sure how we get there logistically. Cersei looks at Euron demanding her “affections” and says “if you want a whore, buy one. If you want a queen, earn her.”
A bad ass line she followed by surprising everyone watching a minute later in summoning Euron to her quarters. While there is some perfunctory flirtation following the sexy times, she’s clearly not into him. A couple of the women at the viewing party I attended for the premiere agreed with me on this: how quickly she was already dressed and at the table drinking wine spoke to her not being at all into Euron. It was work for her. They felt it further undermined the character’s strength who’s been unfortunately victimized throughout the show.
It seems to me that Cersei, every horrible thing she’s done, has been to try to free herself from the oppression of being a cog in the system that had her married off to Robert Baratheon, and then to Loras Tyrell- she’s been lashing out with increasing virulence and wickedness to fight off anyone who would exert power over her or her sexuality. It culminated with her committing an act of domestic terrorism against her own people because of the High Sparrow’s holy crusade against her sexuality. Here she is, Queen, and she still has that sexuality being victimized by an ally that knows she needs him.
So, I say again, if she’s given the option of a reign that is free of any of that oppression and objectification? She’s absolutely taking it, and giving her child up to it since we know the Night King would make that baby immortal as well. We only need to see if she ends up face to face with the Night King, we do know he has the power to visit people in visions though…
You Gave Up Your Crown for Your People, Would She?
Holy cow, John Bradley took his portrayal of Sam Tarly to another level in this week’s episode. His conversation with Daenarys was patiently portrayed, heartbreaking, and the most powerful moment of the episode in my opinion. I predicted Sam makes it to the end, and his moment this week showed why. Overcome by emotion, but still managing to control himself enough to address Daenarys as “your grace” and ask her leave.
It was tremendous, and in that one moment we saw Daenarys facing down the truth of Tyrion’s advice to her when she burned Randall Tarly last season: these are the people she needs to win over and rule. It’s all well and good to talk about breaking the wheel, but no one will honor her crown if it’s soaked in blood of their forebears.
That this was what finally made Sam race to find Jon in the crypts and reveal the truth was perfect. I love the subtle irony of Jon receiving this news in front of Ned’s statue in the crypt after being told in season 1 that when next they saw each other Jon would hear the truth about his mother. I don’t expect anything of this to be revealed to Daenarys yet, very likely Jon will talk to Arya and/or Sansa about it. He might consult Bran, but his moment with the young three eyed raven was unsettling for him, and besides, Bran has bigger bones to pick:
Bran and his Old Friend
I’m not surprised Jaime ended up in Winterfell. I am disappointed there wasn’t a scene at the start of the episode of him stopping en route at Hot Pie’s little tavern for a meal and a chat. (Hot Pie fan 4 Lyfe, yo.) Bran is absolutely going to reveal all the truths about Jaime and his sister, Jaime’s attempted murder, and all about how Ned was killed for knowing the truth about Jaime’s incest. I also think Bran is going to be the one to call for Jaime to receive pardon or at least a stay of execution.
Bran’s above and beyond the justice Jon, Sansa, Arya, Daenarys, and everyone else would be hot to mete out, especially because Jaime’s misdeeds all led Bran down the road he knows he was meant to travel. Jaime must live to fulfill whatever prophecy is left for him to fulfill, and I’m sure Bran will tell him that his comeuppance will be in what’s still to come for him in this war.
Where do we Go Now?
Tormund and the others still need to get back to Winterfell, as much as they speculated the Wight army is between them and Winterfell, that’s assuming the Wights aren’t attempting a more strategic campaign of splitting the North from the rest of the kingdoms and traveling further south to come at Winterfell from the south.
Gendry and Arya’s little reunion scene was the cutest thing, and as much as I’m glad there’s a clear hint at romance between them there’s no way that doesn’t end in tragedy. Arya has had to give up too much (or perhaps hasn’t given up enough) for the destiny of revenge she’s earned from the many faced god. She didn’t give up her name, she didn’t give up her bloodlust, but she was allowed to leave with her life and their skills. You can’t have everything in this world and the many faced god will come to collect. I’m not looking forward to how she ends up paying the debt.
Jaime being in Winterfell means Cersei’s treachery will be quickly revealed- she has no armies coming to aid the North. Where does Tyrion’s stock fall with yet another misstep? Dany called him out already last season on his counsel being poor since their arrival to Westeros, now they’re about to be surrounded by Wights with no help in sight. It’s odd to say, but I think Tyrion may end up being in more trouble than his brother Jaime, and there’s more to be revealed about his conversation with Cersei I’m sure we’ll hear about as a result of this. Not to mention, we know Melisandre will return to die in Westeros eventually, will we see where she’s gotten off to in the meantime?
As I noted, this was a great table setting episode, the big variable that flips it all into mayhem and action is where the wights are and where they’re marching. They’ve already reached the Umbers’ manor, which is the northernmost of the noble houses, and had enough time to create a piece of gory modern art for our heroes to find. Who knows where they’ve reached since then? We’ll see next Sunday and I’ll be back here next week to discuss at length.