HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 5: “Eastwatch”

Last week we got lots of fire. This week, Game of Thrones gave us ice.

And scrolls. Lots and lots of scrolls.

It’s the calm before the storm and things are looking chilly on all fronts. There are no easy choices, no simple solutions, and no arguing with dragons.

Spoilers for the currently published George R. R. Martin novels are discussed in the review and fair game in the comments. We highly suggest not discussing early preview chapters, but if you must, white it out. Have courtesy for the patient among us who are waiting and waiting (and waiting) for The Winds of Winter. Play nice. Thanks.

First things first, Jaime is totally, implausibly fine and so is Bronn. Unlike all of the other Lannister soldiers who were caught by Dany, Jaime and Bronn were somehow able to swim across Westeros’ deepest lake? river? and escape to King’s Landing without being seen by Tyrion, who watched his brother fall into the water, nor any Dothraki who might’ve been posted to catch deserters.

Jaime and Bronn also escaped having their feet held to a literal fire by Daenerys “Bend the Knee” Targaryen.

Say what you want about Dany and her potentially showing flashes of her father’s madness and cruelty, she does not make empty threats of fire and fury. Hard not to think that there’s a certain… pointed political commentary to this season. It would be unwise to think that Westeros has nothing to say to us about dangerous leaders, propaganda campaigns, xenophobia, and the traumas of violent history in a broader sense, at least. But Dany totally voted for Bernie. Totally. No tax breaks for the Cersei Lannisters!

So long, Dickon, we hardly knew thee, except from your bigger role on Black Sails and some funny penis jokes. I felt for Tyrion in that moment; he was trying to spitball some solutions to save House Tarly, but I don’t think the Tarly men gave her much choice. Was this an echo back to Aerys Targaryen burning Ned’s father and brother?

Tyrion’s best avenue to being a good advisor and keeping Dany on a righteous path seemed to be sneaking into King’s Landing to negotiate with his brother and urging Jaime to get Cersei to agree to a temporary truce because the army of the dead is on the march. Nothing like an even worse foreign army invading your lands to force people to work together, right?

Wrong.

Some people just don’t believe what they cannot see with their own eyes. Makes you wonder why Jon didn’t think to box up some wights from Hardhome. I guess that whole fleeing-for-one’s life got in the way. Luckily, Jorah is back to immediately leave again and retrieve a dead guy or two to show Cersei. I guess he’s good for something, after all.

“Sam, will you shut up for a second and let me have my one damn scene, please?”

In the Citadel, Samwell is facing a similar problem. It’s taking too long for the maesters to say that The Long Night isn’t fake news. It hurt my heart a bit to see Sam leave his dream of being a maester behind — and as a former librarian, it hurt to see him steal books! — but his main mission was always and only to help Jon fight the Night King’s army. While he may not return North as a maester, Sam will still be able to prove his worth as a powerful ally and advisor.

And so, too, will Gilly, eventually? I hope they took that book that discussed Rhaegar’s annulment and secret marriage. Fans called it — a record of Jon’s parentage does exist. If only Sam will listen.

“This bed is awfully big. Perhaps blowing up Lancel *was* short-sighted of me.”

Speaking of parentage, Cersei and Jaime are expecting. Well, I think Cersei’s expecting a new golden-haired baby and Jaime’s expecting a whole new world of shit when their twincest is outed once and for all and their legitimacy is challenged again. This is not at all what Tywin would do. To say nothing of what Euron Greyjoy will do. Cersei is waaaay too confident in her position. But it’s interesting that she’s even considering a short-term truce with Dany, the better to get in close and destroy her in a masterstroke not seen since, well, since Cersei wiped out the Tyrells.

The bookies in Flea Bottom probably wouldn’t give great odds on this baby actually being born and neither will I.

The biggest cameo of  HBO’s evening was certainly Weird Al Gendry. I was certainly excited to see him again, though maybe less so with his new buzzcut. I had hoped Davos wouldn’t forget his pseudo-son, though, really, he didn’t look for him very hard. But who would’ve expected Gendry to go right beck to King’s Landing? Risky, maybe silly, but I’m glad Gendry’s back.

Gendry has more instant chemistry with Jon than Jon had with Dany, that’s for sure. Will Gendry play a bigger part in the war to come than swinging a mighty hammer? Could he really be used as a a potential contender for the Iron Throne? Did Jon Arryn make a more official record of Robert’s bastards before his death? Gendry seems like the type to be even less interested in the Irone Throne than Jon is, which is probably why they’ll continue to get along so well. Dany, however, might be less pleased.

Perhaps Arya will be happy to see him again one day, though. Another reunion to look forward to, when Jon and the rest of his band of Not-So-Merry Men come back from their raid beyond the Wall. What an assortment of random characters all in one place.

This wasn’t my favorite episode by a long-shot. There were moments where I wanted more of an emotional weight, particularly between Jaime and Tyrion. Everything felt a bit too rushed, which is odd to say because this episode was longer than last week’s. The seams are showing a bit and I’m not really fond of the way Beric and Sandor are being brought “by the Lord of Light” to get to the Wall. It feels very forced. As much as I like all of these characters and will probably enjoy watching them react to one another in surprising and likely hilarious and possibly awkward ways, I’m missing the quieter moments of depth.

We’re running out of time for such niceties, I’m afraid.

Final thoughts

  • “I thought you might still be rowing.” Thank you, Davos.
  • Funny how as soon as Jon’s announced he’s leaving Dragonstone, I see a genuine spark of chemistry and concern on Dany’s part. I think she’s really impressed with Jon as a leader and ally and that will win her heart eventually. Plus her kids already like him! Jon would make a great Stepfather of Dragons. Jon is sure to return to Dany’s side, but I’m not sure everyone else will survive Eastwatch. (Please don’t be Tormund, please don’t be Tormund. Or the Hound. Or Gendry.)
  • Jorah got his big goodbye interrupted by Jon Snow and you could practically hear his heart sink.
  • Some of the most intriguing quieter moments were between Sansa and Arya. Littlefinger obviously meant for Arya to find the scroll in his room. In case you missed it, it was the scroll Cersei forced Sansa to write in season one. Surely Arya is smart enough not to fall for this totally transparent ploy to get the sisters fighting, but, then again, Arya has never thought kindly of Sansa and some feelings run deep, even in “No one.” I’m extremely interested in seeing if Arya and Sansa are indeed springing a trap for Littlefinger. Still, don’t see why Sansa won’t just let Arya chop off his head.
  • Next week: Flaming swords! Meaningful glances. Wights!

Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9PM E/PT on HBO.

Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com covering TV, book reviews and sometimes games. She’s also gotten enthusiastic about television for Boing Boing, Wired.com’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast and Den of Geek. Reach her via raven or on Twitter.

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