Game of Thrones S7 E5: Eastwatch
Emilia Clarke, Sophie Turner, Kit Harington, Maisie Williams, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Jerome Flynn, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Iain Glen, John Bradley-West
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
…two good episodes of GoT crammed into one 60-minute block.
After a glorious episode like last week’s “The Spoils of War” it’s inevitable the following chapter would be a bit of a let down. All the big genre shows suffer from this syndrome. When someone major dies on The Walking Dead you know the subsequent ep will be a lethargic mope fest. In the case of Game of Thrones, after Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) roasted a shitload of Lannisters riding on Drogon’s back, the show needs to readjust all the many pieces on the board. Necessary, certainly, but a lot less exciting and dynamic. That said, “Eastwatch” has some effective moments.
We open on the smoking fields of war. Bronn (Jerome Flynn) bursts out of the water, holding Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), having rescued him from drowning. So much for last week’s cliffhanger ending. If I wanted to be nitpicky I might wonder where Dany and her soldiers had gone – after all how long was Jaime underwater? – but let’s leave that kind of excessive meticulousness to online forums.
Bronn gives Jaime the good word, telling him he’s a fool for trying to kill Dany. “Listen to me, cunt,” Bronn says, “until I get what I’m owed a dragon doesn’t get to kill you, you don’t get to kill you, only I get to kill you!” Jaime barely seems to notice. The true horror of dragon warfare has hit him hard. How on earth can they possibly compete?
Meanwhile the POWs from the battle are gathered at the bottom of a hill where Dany, Drogon and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) stand. Dany gives a pretty clear ultimatum: bend the knee or die. A few people kneel, but quite a few stay standing… until Drogon roars. It’s very motivational. However Randyll Tarly (James Faulkner) and Dickon Tarly (Tom Hopper) refuse to go down. Dickon in particular stays hard and standing, firm and upright despite his age and relative inexperience. Dany tries to give them an out but they refuse and Drogon turns them both to ash. Tyrion is clearly shaken and even Dany seems a little bothered, but it’s had the desired effect: everyone alive bends the knee.
Back in King’s Landing, Jaime gives Cersei (Lena Headey) the spoilers from last week’s episode. He also explains the truth that Olenna Tyrell (we miss ya, Diana Rigg!) killed Joffrey. Cersei is shaken, spitting “she should have died screaming”.
Dany returns to Dragonstone, where Jon Snow (Kit Harington) cautiously admires Drogon up close. At first he seems to be playing a dangerous game, but Drogon likes the cut of Snowy’s jib and allows the King in the North have a cheeky stroke. Dany looks like she wants to ride Jon next but before anything too salacious can happen, Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) turns up, scab-free and ready to help. Dany and Jorah’s reunion is sweet, but Jon looks a little nonplussed.
Elsewhere Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) plays World of Wargcraft, using an unkindness of ravens to have a squiz at the army of the dead. They’re getting awfully bloody close and the Night King (Richard Brake) scares the birds off but Bran knows he must do something.
Sadly the thing he does is fire off a message to the Maesters at Oldtown.
Samwell (John Bradley-West) overhears Ebrose (Jim Broadbent) and the other Maesters dismissing Bran’s missive. Sam tries to intervene, delivering a passionate speech about how respected these gentlemen are and how they could use their influence for good, but it’s to no avail. Sam leaves, frustrated, and Ebron discloses that he hasn’t yet told Sam about the immolation of his father and brother, Randyll and Dickon.
At Dragonstone, Jon gets the good news/bad news. Bran and Arya (Maisie Williams) are still alive – that’s good! But the army of the dead are getting close – that’s bad. Jon needs an army to defeat them but Tyrion has a plan. If they can prove to Cersei that the walking dead are real, perhaps the Dany vs Cersei conflict can be postponed. Until season eight, most likely. Jorah offers to go north of the wall to capture a monster. Not to be outdone Jon offers to lead the expedition. Dany hasn’t actually given Jon permission to leave but after he delivers a stirring speech she allows it.
At Winterfell, Sansa’s (Sophie Turner) reign is gathering momentum. In the absence of Jon, the Northern folk are beginning to wonder if she might not be the better leader. Sansa defers to Jon but we can see the seeds are sown. Arya can also see this and she’s not impressed. Arya visits Sansa and suggests execution for those disloyal to Snowy. “I’m sure cutting off heads is very satisfying,” Sansa says, “but that’s not the way you get people working together.” Arya calls Sansa on this, claiming big sis wants to be the queen. Sansa can’t quite deny it because we can see in her eyes, she does.
At King’s Landing, Tyrion and Jaime unite in secret thanks to Bronn. There’s still a lot of bad blood there, Jaime seems hurt, but Tyrion has more important things to talk about, like the magical snow zombie apocalypse – that kinda thing. In Flea Bottom, Davos (Liam Cunningham) recruits Gendry (Joe Dempsie) to Team Snow. Gendry shows his worth in short order by dispatching two suspicious guards with a massive hammer. Yeah, he’ll probably come in handy.
Jaime tells Cersei about the meeting with Tyrion, but she already knew. Showing a pragmatic wisdom, she has decided she’ll allow the plan to go ahead… for now. Her only loyalty, ultimately, is to herself and Jaime. “Dead men, dragons and dragon queens – whatever stands in our way we will defeat it.” But she warns Jaime to never betray her again and we get the definite impression she will not forget.
Briefly, Sam rails against the climate change deniers of The Citadel and leaves. Arya is manipulated by Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen) into discovering the note Sansa was forced to write in season one, to try and save her father’s life. Does Petyr want Arya to kill Sansa? What game are you playing, Littlefinger?!
Finally we’re at the titular Eastwatch, a castle next to the sea and The Wall. It’s a huge reunion of Tormund (Kristofer Hivju), Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann), Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) – plus Jon and Gendry, of course. Bickering breaks out because everyone has reasons to hate each other, but Jon announces: “We’re all on the same side.”
“How can we be?” Gendry wants to know.
“We’re all breathing.” Jon answers.
And so the whole group of them decide to execute what Tormund describes as a “stupid fucking plan” and they head into the icy realms north of The Wall.
Damn, that’s a lot of stuff to happen and the problem with an episode so hefty with content is that some of it doesn’t have time to breathe. I mean, do we really believe Arya’s so swift to turn on Sansa? Hopefully she’s actually pulling a fast one on Littlefinger, because it didn’t quite ring true. Also the reunion between Tyrion and Jaime felt truncated, but again – such is the problem with an episode so stuffed with exposition.
Ultimately “Eastwatch” is two good episodes of GoT crammed into one 60-minute block. There are plenty of strong moments, but very little time for any of them to land. That being said we’re now set up for a couple of barnstorming final episodes where the threat of the dead becomes known to all. See you in seven days for the penultimate episode of season seven!