This week’s episode picks up in the same place where the last left off: in Dragonstone, the Targaryen seat of power.
Pardon for Crimes
In a night reminiscent of Daenerys’s stormy birth, she and her council discuss how she could successfully take the Iron Throne. Tyrion tells her that she should win the helms of the realm through diplomacy, not conquest, for she did not sail all the way home just to be “queen of the ashes.”
Daenerys also takes this time to scrutinize the Spider, Varys—that is, she takes this time to question his loyalties.
It is a rather sensible thing to do, if a bit ill timed; Varys does have a history of fledgling service and questionable honor—most of which directly affected Daenerys herself in the most painful of ways. He helped Viserys get power (or the illusion of it, at least, known as he was as the Beggar King), helped arrange the marriage to Khal Drogo, and even helped orchestrate her murder multiple times when he was serving Robert Baratheon. Before all this, there was also the fact that Varys turned on Daenerys’s own father, Mad King Aerys.
Before all these accusations, bitter and biting and sharp, Varys holds his ground. “Incompetence should not be rewarded by blind loyalty,” he says. “As long as I have my eyes, I will use them.” He recounts how he came to be the way he is, how he grew up in squalor. “You wish to know where my loyalties lie?” he continues. “Not with any king or queen, but with the people.”
Varys’s honest declaration—including how he believes that the people have a better chance with Daenerys—leads the young queen to pardon him, with the express instruction to tell her if she’s ever failing the people rather than conspire against her, lest she burn him alive.
Speaking of burning alive, Stannis’s Red Priestess, Melisandre of Asshai, arrives at Dragonstone as well. She still carries the hope of fulfilling the Lord of Light’s prophecy (for real this time, we hope).
“The prince or princess who was promised will bring the dawn,” the prophecy states. (Missandei pointed out that in the original High Valyrian, no gender is attached to it, which means the prophecy Melisandre has been believing from the start has been poorly translated all along, making her look specifically for a “prince.”)
Melisandre feels that Daenerys and Jon both have roles to play in this prophecy, and she suggests that the Dragon Queen summon the King in the North.
“Send a raven north,” Daenerys bids her Hand. “Tell Jon Snow that his queen invites him to come to Dragonstone . . . and bend the knee.”
Later, Daenerys and her allies discuss strategies to conquering Westeros. Yara Greyjoy, Ellaria Sand, and Olenna Tyrell want to attack King’s Landing at once, seeing as Daenerys has the manpower to do it. This, of course, would lead to the death of thousands of innocents, especially if the dragons are let loose on the capital. The three accept this collateral damage, but Tyrion disagrees.
Daenerys doesn’t like the prospect as well. “I am not here to be queen of the ashes,” she says, echoing Tyrion’s earlier words. They then proceed to lay out a battle plan. They will cut off the capital’s supplies by laying siege to the surrounding areas; the Dothraki or Unsullied armies will not be used, however, so that they could disprove Cersei’s statements about the bloodthirsty warriors. Instead, the Unsullied forces, led by Grey Worm, will be sent to Casterly Rock.
After this, Daenerys speaks alone with Lady Olenna. The remaining Tyrell is pessimistic about the concept of peace—having just lost her entire family, this can be expected. She warns Daenerys of the perils of following advice from clever men—even her Hand.
“The lords of Westeros are sheep. Are you a sheep?” Lady Olenna asks the young monarch rhetorically. “No. You’re a dragon. Be a dragon.”
And by the Dragon Queen’s smile, we know that she will do so.
Bastards and Dwarfs
Up north in Winterfell, Sansa, Jon, and Davos discuss the Dragon Queen’s summons. Sansa is against this; though she believes in Tyrion’s character, there is still the possibility that it might be a trap for Jon. Jon agrees, but he still thinks he should go. Davos also points out that if the existence of dragons were true, then an alliance with Daenerys would be an advantageous one in the coming war against the White Walkers.
Sam’s raven arrives at Winterfell at last, and with it the information about the dragonglass—a whole mountain of which is in Dragonstone. Jon informs the northern lords about it and decides to tell them about Tyrion’s invitation as well. He argues that they are in dire need of allies and dragonglass, both of which Daenerys has—along with dragons and their fire.
Sansa is still unconvinced, accusing him of abandoning the North and his home. But Jon says that he is living both in capable hands—hers. As the last Stark in Winterfell, the North is placed under Sansa’s command.
Before leaving, Jon pays his respects in the crypts and visits Ned Stark’s final resting place. Littlefinger joins him, talking about how he delivered Ned’s bones home. He also mentions how Jon would have lost the Battle of the Bastards without Littlefinger’s army from the Vale.
Then he also deems it necessary to mention how he loves Sansa, as he loved Catelyn Stark.
Naturally, this does not go well with Jon, and he pushes him up a wall, choking him. “Touch my sister,” he growls, “and I’ll kill you myself.”
Jon leaves for Dragonstone with Ser Davos and a small retinue of Northmen.
A Queen of the Ashes
In King’s Landing, the Lannister queen is preparing for a different war. Cersei calls on the lords of Westeros to unite against the common enemy—Daenerys Targaryen, daughter of the Mad King. She says that Daenerys is just as brutal as her father and that her Dothraki horde are rapists and murderers.
(Right. Because House Lannister is so innocent of such atrocities.)
Lord Tarly of Horn Hill doubts they will stand a chance against actual dragons, but Maester Qyburn assures him that they are working on a solution. With a track record as intense as his work on reanimating the Mountain and blowing up the Sept of Baelor with wildfire, it can be assumed that Qyburn is preparing something brutally drastic.
After the queen’s audience with the lords, Jaime has a private conversation with Lord Tarly, wherein he asks the older war strategist to be a general in the Crown’s army. This means going to war against the Tyrells of Highgarden, House Tarly’s overlords in the Reach, who have already joined forces with the Targaryen queen.
Lord Tarly is not keen on turning against the Tyrells, telling Jaime that he isn’t an oathbreaker. However, Jaime convinces him in the end by promising to make him the Warden of the South once the war is over.
Later, Cersei goes to the bowels of King’s Landing with Qyburn, walking among the skeletons of long-dead dragons. Qyburn reveals a weapon he has been working on against the living dragons—a giant crossbow, which Cersei then uses to smash the skull of Balerion the Black Dread, the very same dragon that Aegon the Conqueror rode and whose fire forged the Iron Throne itself.
A Citadel of Cures
In the Citadel, Lord Tarly’s son Sam checks over Jorah Mormont’s condition under the Archmaester’s supervision. Jorah’s death will be far into the future, but he apparently is going to lose his mind in six months or less.
Sam doesn’t accept this, bringing up Shireen Baratheon’s case and subsequent curing. The Archmaester shoots back that Shireen had been a baby when she caught the disease and had been treated rather quickly.
The Archmaester gives Jorah the option of taking his own life, albeit in a roundabout way. It is then that Sam also realizes who Jorah is—the exiled son of Jeor Mormont, former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, and someone Sam has respected.
And we all know that Sam is going to take matters into his own hands.
Indeed, Sam later sneaks into Jorah’s room, with a cart of rum, books, and scalpels. He has read up on the treatment of greyscale and has decided to perform it himself. Jorah, with no choice left and nothing to lose, agrees to it, and Sam begins his operation.
A Tavern of Hope
Arya goes to a tavern and sees an old friend—Hot Pie, the baker.
He asks her about her sister, Brienne, and what she has been doing, but Arya does not offer any direct answers, instead digging up on her pie. She does tell him she’s heading to King’s Landing, and this surprises him.
“The Boltons are dead,” he tells her.
“Jon Snow came down from Castle Black with a wildling army and won the Battle of the Bastards. He’s King of the North now.”
This unnerves Arya, and she promptly leaves, telling Hot Pie not to get himself killed. She gets back on her horse, and we all know where she’s heading next.
Later, in the woods, Arya builds a fire for the night. Her horse starts to freak out, and Arya stands, looking guarded.
Then a pack of wolves appears, led by a wolf far larger than the rest—Nymeria, Arya’s long-lost direwolf.
She asks Nym to come back home with her, but Nym turns her back on Arya, as she did all those years ago if only to spare her life from the Lannisters.
King of the Salt Throne
In the belly of the ship, the three Sand Snakes are drinking and talking about who gets to kill Cersei and the Mountain. Upstairs, Theon, Yara, and Ellaria are also drinking—with Ellaria and Yara also flirting. Ellaria asks Yara what Theon’s role would be, and Yara answers that he is her protector.
And then, the ship is jolted.
The Iron Fleet is under attack by the other Iron Fleet—the one led by Euron Greyjoy. A battle ensues above deck. Yara sends Tyene Sand downstairs to be with Ellaria, while the fleet catches on fire.
Obara and Nymeria Sand both get killed by Euron—using their own weapons of choice, nonetheless. Tyene and her mother get captured.
Yara and Euron fight one on one, with Euron later gaining the upper hand. The he gets Theon’s attention while holding an ax to Yara’s throat. “Come on, you cockless coward,” he taunts. “I have her. Come and get her.”
Theon, being the protector that he is, throws himself overboard instead of risking getting killed by his uncle.
Theon’s cowardice is the only reason he stayed alive. Will he go back to his queen, knowing he has failed?
What will the Dragon Queen do with this incredible loss?
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