This season of Game of Thrones will have seven episodes; the next will have only six. This, I reckon, is why the show has suddenly abandoned any sense of realistic proportion. Time is fluid now. Distance is irrelevant. Towards the end of last week’s episode, “Stormborn”, Jon Snow announced he would accept an invitation to Dragonstone. At the start of last night’s episode, “The Queen’s Justice”, there he is on the beach; that’s a week-long journey, maybe more, with scarcely a scene in between. We’ve been waiting seven seasons for these two characters to meet, and now things are moving so fast that you have to wonder if they’ll get any time together before they each start teleporting across Westeros.
Not that I care about realism in a fantasy series, obviously. I watch Game of Thrones to see people get naked, have sex, and swordfight to death. The logistics don’t concern me. But this newfound disregard for details does speak to what I’ve been saying in these recaps, about how much freer the show feels now. There are only ten episodes left to tie up about a dozen different ongoing conflicts, and in a show that has frequently had to stretch itself to breaking point in order to fill time and tick boxes, the rapidity of this new season feels liberating. The reason I drifted away from George Martin’s books is that they were mostly full of complete bullshit. What’s best about this season, so far, at least, is that it has no room for any bullshit at all.
Anyway – Dragonstone. Jon Snow arrives along with Davos Seaworth and a boatload of spoilers, which you should be concerned about if you haven’t watched the episode yet. They’re greeted by Tyrion – who finally gets plenty to say – and introduced to Queen Dany and her dragons (there’s a funny bit when Jon and Davos both throw themselves to the ground as they fly overhead.) Melisandre and Varys have a chat on an overlooking hilltop, something about uniting ice and fire, but this first meeting is all frosty. Missandei introduces Dany with her lofty string of titles; Davos introduces Jon as… well, Jon Snow. Knows very little, apparently. But what I do know is that he’s the best-looking fella on the show, and Dany is exotic hotness, so they’re definitely going to get on better in subsequent episodes. Related, you say? No matter. This is Game of Thrones we’re talking about.
While Dany is imploring Jon to “bend the knee” (he won’t), Cersei is literally bending the knee to give her brother, Jamie, a celebratory sucking-off. She’s in great spirits because – thanks to the magic fleet of Euron Greyjoy – she has Ellaria Sand and her daughter shackled up in a dungeon. Jamie is so thrilled by this turn of events that he fast-travels to Highgarden with the bulk of the Lannister army; I guess it’s time to despatch one of the Houses, and with them Lady Olenna, whom he serves a goblet of poisoned wine. She chins it gladly. You’d think the Queen of Thorns would be above such a matter-of-fact death, but again, this is Game of Thrones we’re talking about. Besides, she gets the last laugh. Turns out she was the one who poisoned Joffrey. She takes her last moments to gloat, as is to be expected. RIP, old lass. You’ll be missed.
It’s worth noting that the shenanigans at Highgarden are juxtaposed with a cleverly-edited little montage, as Tyrion, stood at Dany’s map table, explains how he built a weakness into Casterly Rock, as we see Grey Worm and the Unsullied use the exploit to overwhelm the Lannister forces and seize their seat of power. But, of course, most of the Lannisters aren’t there; they’re at Highgarden. Which leaves Grey Worm as the nominal lord of a useless fortress with empty larders, and who should appear on the horizon to cripple the Unsullied’s ships than Euron Greyjoy and his mythical super-fleet. Tyrion, the smartest Lannister and one of Dany’s most valuable allies, has been immediately outsmarted.
I should note that this is all preposterous. Jamie rode to Highgarden and Euron circumvented half the continent all within the same morning, and in response to plans that I don’t recall them ever being made privy to. Still, it was pretty awesome to see, and it’s thrilling that the great game seems to be finally underway, contrivances be damned. There’s a real sense of uncertainty to this season. Will good triumph? Will evil be toppled? Is there really any difference? I guess we’ll see.
Meanwhile, in the North, Sansa has taken to ruling rather well. She knows more about winter provisioning than the men in the keep who have actually lived through winters, and more about smithing than her smiths. Littlefinger is very pleased by this, being the meddling little pervert snake that he is. And, oh ****, here’s Bran. Or should I say, “The Three-Eyed Raven”, which he continually refers to himself as, regardless of how dopey it sounds and how nobody else has a ******* clue what he’s on about. He manages to scare Sansa with his powers (of all the memories he could dredge up, he chooses one from her wedding night with Ramsay Snow), but he’s a Stark, and he’s in Winterfell, which in context is kind of a big deal. That’s three so far, if you include Jon, and Arya is on her way. (Nothing from our favourite pint-sized, face-swapping, pie-snaffling assassin in this episode, I’m afraid.)
Oh, one last thing. Ser Jorah Mormont of House Friendzone is cured! He still looks rough, and he probably won’t be sunning himself topless any time soon, but Fat Sam did the business. Jorah’s off (surprise, surprise) to find Dany, and lend his services however he can. So far he has been her would-be assassin, a spy, a traitor, a useless suitor, and a leper. Whatever might he think of next?
If you were wondering, Sam turned out okay. The Arch Maester scolded him for performing the surgery despite it being expressly forbidden, but he also congratulated him for saving Jorah’s life. Swings and roundabouts, I guess. He’s tasked with copying out some old, decaying manuscripts for preservation purposes, at around the same time that Dany gives Jon permission to mine Dragonstone for obsidian. Sam’s penchant for finding important info in old books and acting on it against the judgement of those around him continues with a 100% success rate.
And so, really, does the seventh season of Game of Thrones. It hasn’t been perfect (I’m making a lot of allowances for continuity, plausibility and travel times), but this is the most assured and promising season of the show thus far, if you ask me. “The Queen’s Justice” wasn’t any kind of classic episode, but it was a damn good one, and that’ll do for me until next week.
See you then.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.