TL;DR – In the Battle of Queens you win or you die
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
So at the end of last week’s Stormborn (review) a lot went down, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) lost a big chunk of her forces when they were attacked on the way to Sunspear, we lost some Sand Snakes, Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) was captured and Theon (Alfie Allen) said to Yara (Gemma Whelan) “Euron your own”. In the North Jon (Kit Harington) left Sansa (Sophie Turner) in charge to go treat with the Dragon Queen, but also didn’t kill Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) which is a mistake at least half of the characters in the show has made so far. So what will tonight’s episode hold for use, will people’s mistakes come home to roost, will someone kill Littlefinger, how will Sam (John Bradley) gross us out, let’s find out. As always there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.
Final warning there are [SPOILERS] ahead. This season it has been about the rise of the Queens, with Daenerys, Ellaria, Olenna (Diana Rigg), Cersei (Lena Headey) and Yara (Gemma Whelan) all leading the charge. However, in one episode (and the end of Stormborn) we’ve have only two left standing. Yara’s been captured by Euron (Pilou Asbæk), Ellaria is stuck in the dungeons of King’s Landing, and after years of manipulation Olenna is dead from poison, another great house completely wiped out. It was brutal to watch this dramatic shift of events unfold in front of you, like a boulder rolling down the hill which you can’t stop and can only watch as it takes out most of the people you were rooting to win, well not the Sand Snakes, but everyone else. Yes, people are still alive and if Theon can come back from the brink then anyone can, but wow what a turn around.
While a lot of the episode was taken up by the Lannister’s finally understanding and employing tactics, we also get a number of key moments that will shape the rest of the season. First, we have the meeting of Daenerys and Jon at Dragonstone, the Song of Fire and Ice finally coming together. As this played out over the episode it was interesting to see how the different sides tried to forward their agenda, and it was one of the more realistic negotiation exchanges so far. Of course, it also meant that we got to have one of the most brilliant exchanges, when Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) complained that he had come up to the cliffs to brood, only to find Jon there and he was brooding better than he could. We also got Melisandre (Carice van Houten) and Varys (Conleth Hill) have a conversation where it was clear that they were playing a verbal game, in much the same way we saw Varys and Littlefinger all the way back in Season One. In the North, we find that Sansa actually might be a competent leader, as for the first time we see her make clear rational decisions, we also found out that Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) really needs to learn how to read a room. But wait that means two more Starks were reunited, only two more to go and they are both on their way back to Winterfell. Finally, in the Deep South, we have Samwell in Oldtown, and for the first time this season we have a Sam scene which didn’t make me gag. Sam has also (as far as we can see) cured Jorah’s (Iain Glen) greyscale and didn’t infect everyone around him (as far as we can see).
However, we can’t talk about The Queen’s Justice without talking about the Queen herself, Cersei. Out of all the fates doled out to the people in Game of Thrones I think none has been worse than Ellaria’s, having to watch your daughter die in front of you just out of reach is one thing, but watching your daughter rot chained to the fall until your end of days, I mean goodness. This whole scene was about the interplay of mothers, and a mother’s love, and how that can define and destroy you. Frankly, this is something we don’t get to see very often on TV, how far a mother would go to protect her child, and to revenge those who had hurt her own. However, more than that, Cersei has also out manoeuvred all her enemies at every turn this episode. She let Daenerys take Casterly Rock, tactically useless and stripped of resources, it was a trap and Daenerys and Tyrion fell for it. Instead, she had Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) take their army south and remove the last of the Tyrell’s from Highgarden, whilst also courting the Iron Bank of Braavos. In the end what happened, well for the first time I honestly think Cersei might have a chance of winning, though she’s been here before and she always finds a new way to mess it all up.
So from the technical side of things, it was great to see Highgarden and Casterly Rock for the first time, these were two of the big castles that we have heard about several times but never seen, and they were realised really well on screen. The short battle sequence we got was well done, but the Visual Effects soldiers were quite noticeable. Also whoever is your location scout that found the place you are filming the steps of Dragonstone needs to get a raise for finding spectacular locations like that.
While it was an episode where a lot of big things happen, it was also an episode where there were a lot of small moments, like Davos (Liam Cunningham) letting slip that Jon took a blade to the heart for the North, or how Euron replicated the walk of shame, and then looked Jamie straight in the face and asked him how Cersei likes it in bed. We have a titles off in Dragonstone, and a nod to the walking dead … men, even a Dragon surprise, and Olenna, Queen of Thorns to the very end.
So going forward, next week is the midway point during the season and something is going to come to a head, will Daenerys act brashly, will Jon reunite with Bran who has something to tell him, if the history of TV has any say he won’t, and will someone finally kill Littlefinger, only time will tell.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Game of Thrones
Directed by – Mark Mylod
Written by – David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Based off – A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin
Created for TV by – David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Starring in Season 7 – Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Aidan Gillen, Liam Cunningham, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Alfie Allen, John Bradley, Gwendoline Christie, Iain Glen, Nathalie Emmanuel, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Conleth Hill, Jerome Flynn, Kristofer Hivju, Carice van Houten, Pilou Asbæk, Rory McCann, Diana Rigg, Hannah Murray, Indira Varma, Richard Dormer, Joe Dempsie, Gemma Whelan with Anton Lesser, Jacob Anderson, Tobias Menzies, Daniel Portman, Ben Crompton, Ellie Kendrick, Paul Kayne, David Bradley, James Faulkner, Rupert Vansittart, Rosabell Laurenti Sellers, Jessica Henwick, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Joseph Mawle, Tim McInnerny, Bella Ramsey, Mark Gatiss, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, Jim Broadbent, Ben Hawkey and Vladimir Furdik