Game of Thrones: Dragonstone

"Shall we begin."

The long wait is finally over.

Well, I say long, when you get right down to it the long wait hasn't really been all that long. 'The Winds of Winter' aired June 26 2016, just a little over a year ago. As any Sherlock fan will tell you, that's nothing. The long wait has not really been that long at all. So why does it feel like it has? It's probably because we've not been waiting for just any old season of Game of Thrones. We've been waiting for one of the final seasons of Game of Thrones. We have officially reached the point where the writers have stopped pussy footing around and are actually doing all the things we've wanted them to do since the very beginning. Want to see Dany invade the Seven Kingdoms? It's finally happening. Want to see all the (living) Starks reunited at Winterfell? Just two more to go and we've got a complete set. Want to see an unnecessarily large amount of maester stool? No? Well tough, you're getting it anyway.

Game of Thrones' season openers have traditionally been sprawling, but uneventful, episodes that took us us on a whirlwind tour of the Seven Kingdoms (and the lands beyond the Narrow Sea) in order to check in with each and every member of a cast that even Tolstoy would find a little excessive. This was no different. With the exception of the opening massacre (finally, a slaughter at the Twins we can all enjoy) nothing much happened. Which surprised me. I thought with so few episodes left they'd get straight into the thick of it. Not that I mind. As much as I love the big battles and bloodshed, my favourite Thrones scenes always tend to be the quiet ones where two or more characters get together just have a nice chat. And this episode gave us that in droves.


Winterfell 

As much as I don't really want to see Jon and Sansa going against each other, I like my Starks united thank you very much, I did like seeing their clashing leadership styles. Jon is trying to be the same kind of leader his father and brother were. But, as much as I loved them both, they were dumb as fuck. Good men, great fighters, but terrible leaders. And Sansa knows this. She learned the hard way that if you want to survive in this world it is not enough to simply be smart. You need to be ruthless as well. And sometimes that means showing no mercy to those who opposed them, even if those who opposed you are all dead and all that is left are their children. That's how the Lannisters get it done. Their theme tune is a song about how they completely eradicated an entire family who challenged them.

None of the Starks understands the Lannisters better than Sansa. She lived with them. Dined with them. Suffered at Joffrey's hand. Endured gods know how many of Cersei's drunken rants. She was even forced to marry one of them (fingers crossed we get that awkward reunion). Jon may know how to fight the enemy beyond the Wall, but Sansa knows how to fight their enemy to the south. If the King in the North really wants to keep his people safe, he needs to stop being as stubborn as his father and brother and actually listen to his sister.

The Riverlands 

The moment the wine was handed out an immense grin crept across my face and never left it for the duration of this scene. This is what I've wanted since I first read the books. Arya Stark going full Kill Bill and slaughtering her way through the people who murdered her family. Sure, her face changing powers make not a lick of sense (how does she change height?), but I'm more than happy to overlook that if it means seeing more of the people I despise die.

I also really liked her scene with the Lannister soldiers (which included Ed Sheeran, out promoting his latest single). Because this is Game of Thrones, I kept expecting it to take a dark turn and was pleasantly surprised, not to mention relieved, that it didn't. It reminded me a lot of Avatar: The Last Airbender and how that show regularly humanised the soldiers of the Fire Nation by showing us that they were just regular people doing their job who just happened to serve a power mad ruler. Speaking of which...


King's Landing

Once the epicentre of all the series' plotting and scheming, King's Landing feels hollow now that all the really colourful characters are either dead or elsewhere. It's just Cersei and Jaime now, two characters I like a lot better when they are with other people. Cersei works best when she has a truly worthy opponent to spar with and that just isn't Jaime. He may be witty from time to time, but he's too passive whenever he is with sister/lover. If I'm being honest, I really don't think there is anywhere left to go with either of these characters. Best thing for the show now is for Dany to hurry up and incinerate the pair of them. Which brings me to...

Dragonstone

After six seasons of agonising waiting, Daenerys Stormborn, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, Mother of Dragons, and soon to be bookies favourite for the 14th Doctor, has finally almost made it to Westeros. Dany and her entourage landed on Dragonstone, the Isle of Wight of Westeros as well as the ancestral home of House Targaryen and her place of birth. I loved how she just walked right past the throne and went straight to the business of conquest. Knowing who sat there last, I don't blame her. She might also want to get that table seriously disinfected before she touches it again.


Notes and Quotes

--Zombie Giants. Nuff said.

--I bet Sam really wishes he'd stayed at the Wall.

--Lyanna Mormont continues to just be the absolute best.

--The show's immense budget obviously doesn't extend to making King's Landing look even the least bit wintery.

--Was the farm the Hound and the Brothers without Banners visited the same one he and Arya went to? I really should've done a re-watch before starting this season.

--Sansa having zero time or patience for Littlefinger's creepiness gives me life.

--I have a feeling Euron Greyjoy, now rebooted with leather pants and pirate swagger, is going to replace Ramsey as the totally loathsome character no one loves and wants to see die in the most horrible way possible.

--After Archmaester Jim Broadbent's little speech about how the Wall has always stood I am more convinced than ever that it will go down at the end of the season.

Sansa: “No need to seize the last word, Lord Baelish, I’ll assume it was something clever.”

Sansa: “They respect you, they really do. But you have to — why are you laughing?”
Jon: “You know what father used to say. Everything before the word 'but' is horse shit.”

Arya: "When people ask you what happened here, tell them the North remembers. Tell them winter came for House Frey.”

Euron: “Ever since I was a little boy, I wanted to grow up and marry the most beautiful woman in the world. So here I am, with a thousand ships and two good hands.”

Three out of four tables in need of serious disinfecting.
--
Mark of House Greig is so glad he is not a trainee maester More Mark Greig

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cercei's reaction to Tommen's death was colder than anything we saw from the Night King. ''He betrayed me''...Damn.

Thomas Ijon Tichy said...

Would like to point out that the giant they zoomed in on was missing an eye.

Not sure tho how that makes an iota of sense since the Starks would surely have burnt Wun'Wuns corpse

Logan Cox said...

"The show's immense budget obviously doesn't extend to making King's Landing look even the least bit wintery."

THANK YOU. Seriously, King's Landing isn't freaking Florida. When the winter comes, it hits the whole realm.

It wouldn't be Game of Thrones without a love-to-hate villain, and the Night King is too awesome and ethereal to really hate. I'm really enjoying Pilou Asbaek as Euron Greyjoy. "So here I am, with thousand ships and two good hands." That burn was white-hot and Jaime felt it.

I really am not liking this idea they're pushing, especially with Sansa and Arya, that it's okay to do evil, monstrous things as long as you do it to people you feel deserve it. Sansa appeared ready to submit Alys Karstark and Ned Umber to the same fate that the Lannisters and Boltons dealt her and her siblings; I hadn't really thought of it before, but most of the people Sansa has really learned anything from have all been evil sociopaths in one form or another. Hopefully they address this more.

magritte said...

You know, you're right that very little actually happened but I still enjoyed it for the anticipation it built up. The best parts for me were the Sansa-Jon conflict and Sandor's scene, even if I hadn't the slightest recollection of the incident at the farmhouse. Sandor's great.

Your comment on Cersei and Jamie really struck me because for most of the series, I would have said that the Lannisters were a more interesting family than the Starks. Jamie and Cersei are just hollowed at this point, I think. Without her children, Cersei has nothing left but revenge and Jamie seems completely adrift. Meanwhile, Sansa's trials have forged her into a much more interesting character.

Harry said...

I was a little disappointed - you don't want the most exciting scene of a season opener to be before the credits. Even that wasn't exactly a shock - I guessed it was Arya pretty quickly despite the potential question of a difference in height. No, it was more that that scene provided some necessary action and closure that satisfied me. I like the Hound, and Beric and Thoros are of course more relevant since Jon's resurrection, but they and Sam are still essentially side characters that took up a lot of the episode. Cersei and Jaime felt rather hollow now there is such a massive disconnect between the two of them - I would rather have had one more scene with them where Jaime explodes at Cersei following Euron's visit. I was also hoping for a bit more from Daenerys' arrival scene - yes it was done with appropriate levels of reverence but it also didn't really provide anything more than the trailer for season 7 did. We got to see more of the look of Dragonstone, and that was about it. Still, hopefully the writers will have made up for it with paced episodes next week and going forward.

Unknown said...

The farm dad and daughter are indeed the same people the Hound robbed in an earlier season- this was confirmed by the director in the "after the thrones" feature.

sillyrabbit said...

Jon is trying to be the same kind of leader his father and brother were.

Where does this idea come from? With all due respect, do people even watch the show?

Sansa was advocating that Jon do to Alys Karstark basically what Robb did to the Old Lord Karstark. Old Lord Karstark broke Robb's law by killing POWs and Robb cut off his head. That was a lawful punishment and Robb stuck to it. It cost him the war.

Jon is doing the opposite of that - he's opting for a less black/white perspective, and not planting seeds for enemies to rise up and destroy him. Basically he's choosing the option that does not turn Alys Karstark into a Daenerys Targaryen or Ned Umber into an Arya Stark.

Sansa's suggestions were short-sighted and devoid of empathy or sense. The fact that she made them by opening challenging Jon and weakening his rule is even worse. I can only hope that the show plans to make her a final Bad because the way her character is written is clearly pointed in that direction.

Mark Greig said...

Sillyrabbit, Robb executed Lord Karstark, but he did not punish his family for Lord Karstark's treason. He didn't strip them of their titles or drive them out of their homes. Because of that the Boltons had a powerful ally when they came to power. Jon has done exactly what Robb did. Killed the Karstarks and Umbers who directly challenged him, and spared the ones who didn't. You say this won't make them another Daenerys Targaryen or Arya Stark, but there is no way ti guarantee that. Sansa is right to be concerned that they will betray the Starks again if left to their own devices. To not think so is just foolish. it may have been wrong of her to opening challenge Jon in public, but it is not wrong of her to think the houses that betrayed them still can't be trusted.

Tim said...

> Dragonstone, the Isle of Wight of Westeros

:-)

Tim said...


I am reminded of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EfW9znJYjw